The Texas Rangers have hired Jeff Banister to become their next manager, they announced today.
The Rangers have been looking for a manager since Ron Washington's resignation prior to the end of the season. They narrowed the field to three, as interim manager Tim Bogar and Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash were announced by the team to be finalists, along with Banister. They also interviewed two other internal candidates in Mike Maddux and Steve Buechele, along with three other external candidates: Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing, and former player Alex Cora.
Banister has been serving as the Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach for the past four seasons under Clint Hurdle and has been a prime candidate to become a manager. He has been with the Pirates organization for the past 29 seasons, ever since they drafted him in the 25th round of the 1986 MLB Draft. He made it to the big leagues for one at bat in 1991, singling.
From 1994 to 1999, Banister served as a minor league coach within the Pirates system. After working as both the Pirates major and minor league field coordinator before becoming the Pirates interim bench coach on August 8, 2010, a position he has held since.
"I want to thank the Texas Rangers for giving me this opportunity," Banister 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 battled bone cancer in High School and was paralyzed from a home plate collision during a junior college game in Texas. The 49-year-old Houston native has come a long way since then.
He will have his work cut out for him. The Rangers finished 67-95 in 2014, battling a ton of injuries and underperformance. This was the team that did win the American League in both 2010 and 2011 and won 91 games in 2013, so there is a possibility that Banister can get them back on track.