The Chicago Cubs bear some responsibility for the ban of black players in the first place. In 1882 in a game against Toledo, Cubs Hall of Famer Cap Anson demanded that a player be taken out of the game because he was black. Five years later, Anson refused to allow his team to take the field if a black player was on the opposing team. The Giants tried to sign an African-American player, and Anson led the charge in getting the other owners from blocking that move and any other move that would have allowed blacks to play.
To be fair, the ban wouldn't have happened if the other owners and players weren't also racist, but Anson was the most vocal, and he was the biggest star in the league, and nobody wanted to defy him. He hated "darkies," as he called them, but he thought he was magnanimous, because he hired a "little coon who could handle a baton" to be the team mascot. This is the way he described him in his memoirs...
"Outside of his dancing and his power of mimicry, he was, however, a 'no account nigger' and more than once did I wish that he been left behind."
Certainly that's a stain that can never be erased from the memory of the early Chicago Cubs, but it wasn't the final stain in the history of race relations with the club.
After Jackie Robinson finally broke the color barrier in 1947, Cubs owner Phillip Wrigley still didn't sign a black player for several more years. Wrigley was afraid of signing black players because his fan base was almost totally white and he worried how they would react. The first African-American to sign with the Cubs in the minor leagues was pitcher Booker McDaniel, but he never reached the majors.
It wasn't until the end of the 1953 season that Gene Baker was finally called up. He was 28 years old, and had hit well in the minor leagues, but the Cubs hadn't called him up earlier despite having no one better on the major league roster, and finishing 40 games out of first place.
Ernie Banks was signed shortly thereafter from the Kansas City Monarchs. They signed Ernie strictly because they needed another black player to room with Baker. If they didnít have Baker, they wouldn't have signed Banks. They honestly had no idea what they were getting in Banks, either. One of the Cubs coaches, Ray Blades, gave Ernie a book called "How to play baseball" even though he had hit .380 for the Monarchs.
At the time, inserting Banks into the lineup was a very controversial move, because shortstop was considered a "thinking man's" position, and Banks was the first African-American in Major League history to play shortstop on a regular basis.
Needless to say, it worked out just fine.
Despite Wrigley's worries, both Gene Baker and Ernie Banks say they were treated very well by the Wrigley fans. The fans had good reason to cheer. Thanks to the nucleus of future Hall of Famers like Banks, and Billy Williams, and Fergie Jenkins, the Cubs returned to prominence in the late 60s and early 70s after two decades in the wilderness.
But the Cubs took even longer to break the color barrier on the bench. It was a full 46 more years before they hired an African-American manager, Don Baylor, in November of 1999. As for the front office, the Cubs still have never employed an African-American as general manager.
In 2016, it will be 150 years.