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November 11, 2011

Cubs Legend Gets a Makeover

If you've been hanging out in Wrigleyville near the corner of Clark and Addison, you've noticed something different.

Ernie Banks is missing.

But don't fret, the statue of "Mr. Cub" (not the Hall of Famer himself) was removed, transported to Peoria because, well, the Chicago Cubs legend was turning green.

"It was oxidizing a little too fast, and the Cubs didn't want it to," Lou Cella, the Chicago artist who originally did the Banks statue told the Peoria Journal Star.

So...what to do?

Last week, Cella and crew cut the seven-foot, 400-pound bronze statue from its base, loaded it by crane onto a flatbed trailer and drove it south three hours to Bradley University's Heuser Art Center sculpture studio.

"He was covered up," added Kyle Chipman, the guy who chauffeured "Mr. Cub" to town, "so it wouldn't attract too much attention."

Unfortunately for Banks, the statue, it didn't get to enjoy any of the nightlife in Peoria.

Instead, the statue's old finish was burned off with a torch, sandblasted and degreased before getting a chemical coating to change the appearance of its surface.  It was then waxed and buffed and given a new coat of lacquer.

In 1982, Banks was the first member of the Chicago Cubs to have his uniform number retired. In 2008, his number 14 was immortalized in bronze and joined the late broadcaster Harry Caray on the perimeter of Wrigley Field.

"Mr. Cub" looks to be returning soon.

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