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Jeff Banister

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Jeffery Todd Banister

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[edit] Biographical Information

Catcher Jeff Banister overcame numerous hurdles to play 7 years in the minor leagues and get a cup of coffee in the majors. Afterwards, he became a long-time minor league manager and coach.

[edit] Health problems

Banister had bone cancer in his ankle when he was in high school and almost had his leg amputated. He had ostemeomyelitis as well and needed seven operations on his left leg and ankle as a teenager.

Jeff played for Baytown Junior College, where he had his vertebrae crushed in a home-plate collision that left him temporarily paralyzed from the neck down.

[edit] Playing career

Banister overcame all those problems to be a 25th-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1986 amateur draft. Debuting that year with the Watertown Pirates, Jeff put up a very weak .145/~.221/.177 line in 41 games.

In 1987, Banister batted .254/~.314/.378 as the primary catcher for the Macon Pirates. The next season, he was up to AA with the Harrisburg Senators. He hit .259/~.296/.376 for Harrisburg, though his 17 errors tied Jerry Goff for the Eastern League lead among catchers.

In 1989, Jeff returned to Harrisburg and produced at a .238/~.301/.384 clip. He was named the EL All-Star catcher that year. In his third year with the Senators, Banister split time between first base and catcher and hit .269/~.317/.386. He saw some action with the Buffalo Bisons that year, batting .320/~.393/.520 in his first 12 games at AAA.

By 1991, Banister said "It's become an obsession for me to make [the majors], but I know to just take each day as it comes. You can't put a time table on your dreams. I know one day I'll play in the majors, even if it's only for one day." Banister would get his one game in the majors that year. Bisons manager Terry Collins said "Determination-wise, he is one of the best individuals you will meet." Jeff hit .244/~.324/.308 in 79 games for Buffalo, splitting catching duties with Tom Prince. On July 23, Banister got his only major league at-bat and singled against Dan Petry, pinch-hitting for Doug Drabek in the 7th inning; Jeff spent five days on the big league roster altogether.

[edit] Managerial career

Jeff was a player-coach for the 1993 Carolina Mudcats, going 5 for 15 with a double and a walk in 8 games to conclude his playing career. Banister got his managerial start in 1994 with the Welland Pirates, as they went 30-44 and finished 12th in the 14-team New York-Penn League. Jeff then guided the 1995 Augusta GreenJackets to a South Atlantic League pennant despite having no player hit more than six home runs. Augusta went 43-25 in the first half, 33-37 in the second half and 5-0 in the post-season.

In the 1995-1996 Hawaii Winter League, Banister managed the Honolulu Sharks to the best record (29-23), though they fell in the finals.

In 1996, Jeff guided the Lynchburg Hillcats to a 65-74 record. The next season, he started out with Lynchburg, then was promoted to the AA Carolina Mudcats partway through the season. He spent all of 1998 with Carolina and they finished 59-80.

In 2004, Banister was interim manager of Lynchburg for two weeks.

[edit] Coordinator and Coach

From 1999-2002, Banister worked as Pittsburgh's Major League Field Coordinator. He assumed the job of Minor League Field Coordinator in 2003 and as of 2008, still held that position. In 2008, Banister became interim pitching coach of Lynchburg when Bob Milacki stepped down; Mike Steele took the full-time job. Midway through the 2010 season, he replaced Gary Varsho as the Pirates' bench coach. When the Pirates finally broke their historic 20-year streak of losing season in 2013, he was one of those most deeply affected, as he had been a member of the organization for all 20 of those painful seasons, making the team's turnaround all that much sweeter for him.

After the 2014 season, Banister won the competition to become the new manager of the Texas Rangers starting in 2015. The other two finalists were Tim Bogar, who had done an excellent job after taking over on an interim basis for Ron Washington in September, and Kevin Cash.


Preceded by
Tim Bogar
Texas Rangers Manager
2015-
Succeeded by
current

Sources include "Banister shows grit in major-league bid" by Ken Mrazik in the 1991 Pittsburgh Press, 2006 Pirates Media Guide

[edit] Year-By-Year Minor League Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1994 Welland Pirates New York-Penn League 30-44 12th Pittsburgh Pirates
1995 Augusta GreenJackets South Atlantic League 76-62 4th Pittsburgh Pirates League Champs
1996 Lynchburg Hillcats Carolina League 65-74 6th Pittsburgh Pirates
1997 Lynchburg Hillcats Carolina League 40-30 -- Pittsburgh Pirates replaced by Jeff Richardson on June 19
Carolina Mudcats Southern League 29-40 10th Pittsburgh Pirates replaced Marc Hill (26-42) on June 19
1998 Carolina Mudcats Southern League 59-80 9th Pittsburgh Pirates

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