May 11- Ernie Banks Hits First of then MLB Record Five Single Season Grand Slams
1955- On this Day in Sports History, Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs hit his first grand slam of the year. It would be his first of five grand slams in the 1955 season which broke the record for most grand slams in a single season. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, among a few others, held the record of four single season grand slams, but no other player before him had hit five grand slams in a single year until Ernie Banks did with his first one coming on this day in 1955.
Ernie Bank’s five grand slams in a single season was the MLB record for 30 years until Don Mattingly hit his sixth grand slam of the 1987 season. The record still stands at six grand slams with Don Mattingly and Travis Hafner (2006) sharing the record. Ernie Banks still holds the National League record for grand slams in a single season, but shares it with Albert Pujols who also hit five in 2009.
Ernie Banks first grand slam of the 1955 season came against Russ Meyer and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Banks hit the grand slam to left-center in the first inning with one out to help give the Cubs a 5-2 lead heading into the second inning. It was Bank’s only hit of the day but the Cubs would end up scoring 10 runs to beat the Dodgers 10-8. The grand slam was his sixth home run of the year. He would end up hitting 44 home runs during the 1955 season including the five grand slams.
Ernie Banks was in his second year with the Chicago Cubs in 1955 when he broke the record. After playing with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues, the Chicago Cubs signed him and he made his Major League Debut in September of 1953 as the first ever African-American to play for the Cubs. In 1954, Banks won the starting shortstop job and finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year race. Ernie Banks would go on to play 2,528 games, all with the Chicago Cubs, until he retired in 1971 as he would earn the nickname “Mr. Cub”.
Ernie Banks hit 512 home runs in his career including 12 grand slams. He would also be named a 11x all-star and 2x National League Most Valuable Player (1958,59). He would also win a gold glove in 1960. Despite all these achievements, Mr. Cub never played in a postseason game as the Chicago Cubs failed to make it into the postseason for the entirety of his career. Ernie Banks was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977 and was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2013.
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“Brooklyn Dodgers at Chicago Cubs Box Score, May 11, 1955.” Baseball Reference
“Farewell, Mr. Cub.” National Baseball Hall of Fame, National Baseball Hall of Fame
Kelly, Matt. “Hafner, Mattingly Hold Single-Year Grand Slam Record.” MLB.com, MLB, 11 Mar. 2019