Banks, a hall of fame shortstop known as "Mr. Cub" who will receive a presidential medal of freedom later this year, said he attended an Obama speech in Chicago shortly before Obama announced his underdog race for the presidency in 2007.
"I met him at a Jesse Jackson dinner at Navy Pier," Banks told reporters on Tuesday at a ceremony honoring him for the award at Wrigley Field. "He was there speaking. I wanted to say hi to him. I talked to his assistant and I said I have to talk to Barack. I got his card, and the next day he announced he was a candidate. I was going to tell him not to run. I said 'Do you really want to do this?'"
Banks hinted his concerns had to do with racism, relating a story on how he fell short in a bid for alderman in the 1970s when Chicago was controlled by then-Mayor Richard J. Daley's (D) political machine.
"I ran for Alderman in [the early 1970s], and Mayor Daley was running the city," Banks said. "Someone asked the mayor where that baseball player was going to finish in the race for the 8th Ward. He said somewhere out in left field. That is where I finished."
Banks said he's grown close with Obama in the years since, though his entreaties to switch his team loyalty have fallen on deaf ears.
"He is a wonderful guy and a brilliant man," Banks said. "I have tried to get him to come to Wrigley Field, but he will not. He is a loyal White Sox fan."