Rangers hire Texan Jeff Banister

ByCalvin Watkins ESPN logo
Friday, October 17, 2014

General manager Jon Daniels called new Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister a winner and a survivor during a conference call with reporters Thursday night.

Banister, the 18th full-time manager in team history, will be formally introduced Friday morning. He takes over a team that finished with the third-worst record in baseball at 67-95 this past season.

Daniels said the organization started with 40 candidates for the managerial job before paring the list of names to eight. From there, the Rangers focused on three finalists, including Tim Bogar, who took over as the interim manager in September after Ron Washington resigned for personal reasons.

Bogar was given high praise for leading the Rangers to a 14-8 mark and appeared to be the favorite for the job, but in the interview process, Banister was just better, according to Daniels.

"When you interview for any position, unfortunately you're only going to hire one guy," Daniels said. "And by definition you're going to disappoint others involved. It's not a situation of Tim or anybody else, quote unquote losing. It's really a situation where Jeff won the job and felt like he was the best fit."

Banister, 50, spent 29 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, the last five as their bench coach. He has held a variety of jobs for the Pirates, including an eight-year stint as the minor league field coordinator.

Banister's first job as a manager was for Welland in the New York-Penn League in 1994, before leaving to become the manger for Class-A Augusta the next season.

"I want to thank the Texas Rangers for giving me this opportunity," Bannister said in a statement. "I am elated to have the chance to make an impact on the organization, and I look forward to getting started on that task.

"I also want to express my gratitude to the Pittsburgh Pirates for the last 29 years. My experiences in that organization have prepared me well for this new opportunity, and I thank all of the individuals who have poured into my life along the way."

Banister recovered from bone cancer and osteomyelitis (an infection of the bone or bone marrow) during his minor league playing career. He played in just one game in the big leagues, recording a base hit in his lone at bat.

Banister was also temporarily paralyzed from a home plate collision when he played junior college baseball in Baytown, Texas.

"Jeff is a Texas native, a son of two educations, his father, a high school football coach, he's a winner, he's a survivor in every sense of the word," Daniels said. "He played football and baseball as an amateur. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates organization."

Banister forged a close relationship with current Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who is highly regarded within the Rangers organization after spending time there.

"He has been an instrumental reason for the success the Pirates organization has had over the course of his tenure with the ballclub," Hurdle said. "Jeff has put forth as much sweat-equity and hard work into the game of baseball as any man I have had the privilege of working with."

The Rangers spoke to between 15 to 20 people about Banister. On Wednesday night, they made their decision final.

"I never met Jeff before the interview process," Daniels said. "In the vetting process, the background work, heard a lot about his work in a player development standpoint, heard a lot about obviously with his background in doing a lot of things in the organization, you know he's going to value the minor league scouting and the grassroots element of it."

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