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Ernie Banks gets Presidential Medal of Freedom

Hall of Famer and Cubs icon Ernie Banks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama Wednesday in Washington D.C.

Here’s a shot from Cubs beat reporter Carrie Muskat:

The Medal of Freedom is presented to individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security and national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” It was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy.

Banks was among 16 people to receive the honor Wednesday, a list that included former President Bill Clinton, former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith and broadcasting mogul Oprah Winfrey.

On Banks, President Obama had the following to say (via Muskat’s blog):

“That’s Mr. Cub — the man who came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day, and became the first black player to suit up for the Cubs and one of the greatest hitters of all time. In the process, Ernie became known as much for his 512 home runs as for his cheer and his optimism, and his eternal faith that someday the Cubs would go all the way.”

Other baseball players to receive the Presidential Medal of Honor include Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Stan Musial.

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