By Lew Patton
Jeff Banister is a Texan.
Since we are just around the corner from Groundhog day, those of us that are hooked on baseball start to get that old familiar feeling that baseball is just about here. Ranger pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 20. It’s important to start getting in baseball shape for spring. That includes getting to know the new coaches and players that make up the team. Therefore I have been doing some heavy research.
The more I learn about Jeff Banister, the more I am so looking forward to the new baseball season, and seeing how his leadership and management style will play out here. I feel pretty certain the Rangers absolutely made the right choice for the new coaching position.
Did you know that Jeff Banister only had one hit in the major leagues? That is true, but boy, was it a hit.
Banister has a fascinating story, one that Tyler Kepner wrote some time ago for the New York Times. He battled cancer as a teenager, was paralyzed for ten days due to a home plate collision as a junior college catcher, ended up getting drafted by the Pirates, legged out an infield single in his lone major league at bat, and has spent his entire career with Pittsburgh, with the last four coming as Clint Hurdle’s bench coach.
Who is Clint Hurdle you ask? On November 4, 2009, he was hired as the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers. In 2010, Hurdle helped the Rangers to their first American League pennant in franchise history before losing to the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 World Series. Hurdle went on to become the coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
As any good leader has, I think most Rangers fans are interested in what sort of plan that Banister has for the team. Banister is featured in a recent Grantland piece about the Pirates’ use of sabermetrics. Here is another piece about the science of sabermetrics.
Man, I can’t wait. Now, if the groundhog will just cooperate.