Arizona Baseball

Former Arizona Wildcats coach Jerry Kindall has place in history with Ernie Banks

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Inset is an excerpt from the book American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. It quotes the late Ernie Banks as to the origin of the “friendly confines” in relation to Wrigley Field.
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Jerry Kindall coached Arizona to three national titles

Jerry Kindall coached Arizona to three national titles

Arizona’s legendary baseball coach Jerry Kindall has the distinction of being the player who permanently replaced the late, great Ernie Banks as a starting shortstop for the Chicago Cubs on May 23, 1961.

Banks, who passed away Friday night at age 83, is irreplaceable as Mr. Cub to fans on the north side of Chicago. Kindall had the honor of being a teammate of the Hall of Famer after signing as a “bonus baby” with the Cubs in 1956.

Banks consulted with Chicago’s unique group of coaches before the game in 1961 about moving from shortstop to left field because of an ailing knee he suffered in spring training. The Cubs did not have a manager that year but instead a unique group of eight coaches called the College of Coaches.

They came to the conclusion that Banks would be most beneficial to the Cubs in left field in the game played at Wrigley Field against Philadelphia. At that time, Banks hit more home runs than any shortstop in major-league history.

Banks, who finished with 512 career home runs, played the last 10 years of his career mostly at first base with Chicago.

Kindall played immediately for the Cubs in 1956 after signing out of the University of Minnesota when he was 21. He made his first career major-league start on Aug. 11, 1956, against visiting St. Louis in place of Banks when Banks was sidelined with an infected hand. Banks’ string of 424 consecutive starts at shortstop came to an end that day.

Kindall backed up Banks for five seasons at shortstop and started at second base occasionally before getting his break as the regular starter at shortstop in 1961.

His double-play partner at second base that season was the late Don Zimmer, who passed away also at 83 last June.

Banks is famous for coining the phrases “friendly confines” in regards to Wrigley Field and “let’s play two”, symbolizing his love of the game. The “friendly confines” quote came about when talking to Kindall when the Cubs were returning home after a difficult road trip.

“Jerry, we’re going home where people are friendly — back to the Friendly Confines,” Banks reportedly said.

Kindall smiled, “Ah, the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.’” 

Kindall, who turns 80 on May 27, has worked mostly as a television analyst for college and little league baseball games since his retirement from coaching in 1996. He won three national championships and recorded 861 career victories in his 24 years as Arizona’s coach.

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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:
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The boxscore for the first game in which Jerry Kindall replaced Ernie Banks as the Cubs’ regular starting shortstop on May 23, 1961.
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A clipping from the Baltimore Afro-American publication in 1961 showing Ernie Banks shaking hands with Jerry Kindall when Kindall replaced him permanently at shortstop with the Cubs.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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