Who Is Jeff Banister?
Jeff Banister, at 49 years young, has just been named to his first managerial role with your Texas Rangers.
While this may come as a shock to virtually the entire Rangers fan base and even the local media, I trust that the Rangers have made the right decision. It appeared at seasons end, that Interim Manager Tim Bogar was the clear favorite to win the job, and rightfully so. However, you have to go through the process of interviews because you never know what kind of gem you will find when you start digging through the dirt mounds.
Now that the search is over, let’s take a few minutes to get to know the new skipper.
Banister was born in Weatherford. No, not Weatherford, Texas, but Weatherford Oklahoma. (Strike one Banister). Don’t let that cast any shadows on your opinion about the man, it wasn’t his fault and he got here as fast as he could anyways.
Banister is a dude, he’s tougher than Adrian Beltre.
I’ll give you a second to clean up the liquid you just spit all over your internet capable device after reading that last line before I continue. My apologies.
You read that right though. The man is tougher than our beloved Beltre. In 1982, his junior year in high school, Banister suffered what was thought to be a routine ankle injury. During an exam it was revealed that he had cancerous cysts. Those cysts would require skin grafts and would eventually turn into osteomyelitis, an infection that essentially eats the bone from the inside out. The osteomyelitis would spread up his leg to just below his knee and the docs recommended that the leg be amputated.
“I don’t know what I’d do without baseball. I’d rather die than lose my leg.”
That is the quote that he told his father while they were discussing the news. Banister wasn’t going to let them remove his leg.
He’s a dude.
Three years later however, his legs would be of concern again, this time for an entirely different reason.
Banister was catching at Lee College and was involved in a home plate collision that broke his neck, crushed three vertebrae, and left him paralyzed for 10 days. Doctors told him he would probably be confined to a wheelchair the rest of his life. Again, Banister said to hell with that.
Three operations, a year of rehab, and Banister was walking again.
He’s a dude.
He was rewarded with a baseball scholarship to the University of Houston but misfortune and bad luck continued to find him. He required two different surgeries for his balky knees and then within three weeks of each other, his father, grandmother, and his long time doctor all died.
“I’ve had an intense desire to play baseball all my life. This game is very special to me and I respect it in every way.”
Banister has said that he dedicates his entire major league career to those three people, three of the most influential people in his life.
Banister was eventually drafted in 1986 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team that he has since spent his entire major league career with. He made his major league debut five years later due to injuries at the big league level. He drilled a pinch hit single in the eighth inning in a game against Atlanta.
And that was it. Just like that, it was all over.
One at bat, one hit, 1.000 average. He was sent back to the minors where he would finish his playing career. In 1993 he served as a player/coach for the Carolina Mudcats and in 1994 he went into coaching full time.
He stayed in the Pirates minor league system until 1999 when he was named the Pirates Major League Field Coordinator. That was a brief stint as he was named to the same position in the minor leagues in 2003 and kept that title until 2010.
He had a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 2008 as the interim Pitching Coach once Bob Milacki resigned and served as interim bench coach in early August of 2010 after Gary Varsho was fired. New manager Clint Hurdle hired Banister on as full time bench coach in the offseason of 2010 and he has been there ever since.
Banister is known for his intense batting practice sessions and a local Pittsburgh blog loves to make meme’s about it. Here are a couple of them: (photos courtesy of rumbunter.com and shared by Patrick Despain)
Sorry Jeff Bridges, Jeff Banister is The Dude now.
Jeff Banister is your new manager. He’s not wear a colostomy bag during a spring training game dude like our current dude Adrian Beltre, but he’s an even bigger dude.
Move over Belts, there’s a new dude in town, and he’s your boss.