By overwhelming a dozen club officials through an extensive interview process, Jeff Banister has won the job as the next Rangers manager.
Banister, who was the Pirates bench coach for the past four years, will be introduced as the Rangers’ 18th full-time manager at an 11 a.m. CT press conference Friday.
Banister replaces Tim Bogar, who served as interim manager for the final 22 games of the season. He took over for Ron Washington, who resigned Sept. 5 after eight seasons on the job. The Rangers were 14-8 under Bogar.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the club vetted over 40 names before selecting eight to interview. He said 12 club officials participated in the interview process.
Daniels said Banister “won the job” rather than anybody else losing it.
“He is a winner and a survivor,” Daniels said. “He is an impressive guy to meet. You can understand how he can command a room. The passion for winning and getting to know people as a person before the player stood out the most.”
Banister has been with the Pirates for the past 29 years, first as a player and then in a variety of capacities including Minor League coach, manager and coordinator, and Major League coordinator and coach.
“I want to thank the Texas Rangers for giving me this opportunity,” Banister said. “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.”
Daniels said he had never met Banister before the managerial search began. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who was the Rangers hitting coach in 2010, gave a strong recommendation. But the Rangers’ search committee interviewed many people who had come into contact with Banister through the years.
“I’m happy for Jeff,” said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, who worked with Hurdle in Pittsburgh. “He’s a quality baseball man and I wish him nothing but the best … except when Texas plays us.”
“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.”
Daniels said there were five criteria used to measure candidates, beginning with re-creating the Rangers’ winning attitude.
“That’s our expectations,” Daniels said. “This is not a rebuilding situation. We expect to win.”
Next were being able to develop players at the Major League level, personality and leadership, preparation for in-game strategy and being involved completely in the organization beyond just the Major League team. Daniels said Banister stood out in all areas.
“Jeff has done a little bit of everything,” Daniels said. “This guy likes to work, get to the park, develop relationships, all those things added up. He had a very impressive presentation.
“It was not a situation where Tim or anybody else lost. It was just a situation with Jeff where we just felt he was the best fit. That’s why we were as thorough as we were. We felt our read on him was accurate.”
Banister, Bogar and Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash were the three finalists for the position. The Rangers also interviewed pitching coach Mike Maddux, Triple-A manager Steve Buechele, White Sox third-base coach Joe McEwing, Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo and Puerto Rico Winter League executive Alex Cora.
The outside hire leaves the coaching staff in a state of uncertainty and third-base coach Gary Pettis has already accepted a job with the Astros. Hitting coach Dave Magadan has been approached by the Mets and Yankees. The Rangers have reportedly reached out to Athletics hitting coach Chili Davis.
Maddux remains unsigned for next season. Bogar, Maddux and other coaches are expected to meet with Banister in the near future. Buechele is under contract to return as Triple-A manager but could be a candidate for the Major League staff.
Daniels said Banister will not have to keep any coaches he doesn’t want. Daniels will also have a say in the coaching staff.
Banister, 50, was born in Oklahoma but played high school and college baseball in Texas and has an extraordinary background. He developed bone cancer in his left leg in high school and doctors initially wanted to amputate. But the leg was saved through multiple operations and he continued his baseball career in college. At Baytown (Texas) College, he suffered a crushed vertebrae as a catcher in a collision at home plate and was paralyzed for 10 days.
He still ended up playing at the University of Houston and was drafted by the Pirates in the 25th round of the 1986 First-Year Player Draft. He had one at-bat in the Major Leagues with a single in 1992.
“When you go through life experiences like that, it provides unbelievable perspective,” Daniels said. “It’s huge in leadership positions. What he has experienced is pretty remarkable.”
Article written by T.R Sullivan of the blog Postcards of the Elysian Fields