Inducted into Sports Hall of Fame, 1988

A native of Newington, Banks starred in football and basketball in addition to his primary sport of baseball in high school. At the age of 18, he tried out at a baseball camp conducted by the St. Louis Cardinals and was invited to their training camp in Florida the following spring. He played exhibition games with the Cardinals and when the season began, was sent to one of their farm clubs. For six years, he played in Class B Piedmont League in North Carolina, with the Class D North Carolina State League, in the Southern Association for several years as a catcher and hitter, playing under the name “Johnny Dwyer” after he was cut from the Cardinals’ rolls. In 1946 he played in the Colonial League in New York until it shut down. Although his dream of playing on the Cardinals team did not come to pass, he made many friendships, including with the team’s manager, Frankie Frisch.

Frisch recalled, “I wish I could have a ball club made up of players with the hustle, the spirit, the willingness of Jake Banks. I only wish he had been a little better player so I could have kept him.”

Upon returning to Connecticut, Banks played for semi-pro baseball with some of the best teams in the state: the Taftville A.C.’s of Norwich, the Mayflowers, the New Britain Falcons, and the Polish-Americans of New Britain. He played for the Savitt Gems for many years, after having played against them with the Cardinals.

In 1976 he was invited to St. Louis for the 50th anniversary of the first Cardinal World Championship team given by the St. Louis Baseball Writers Association. That same year he was asked to throw out the first ball opening the local Twilight League season where he had been a star player over thirty years earlier. He was posthumously inducted into that league’s Hall of Fame in 1982.