Hurdle proud of protege Banister's MOY Award
Pirates manager championed, mentored former bench coach
PITTSBURGH -- Minutes after being named the American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday night, Jeff Banister was answering questions on MLB Network about the people who helped him along the way. One of them in particular, he figured, had probably already sent him a congratulatory text message.
He wasn't wrong.
"It was within seconds," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Thursday.
Hurdle and the rest of the Pirates' organization had plenty of reason to celebrate in that moment. Before becoming the Rangers' manager, Banister spent 29 years as a player and coach with the Pirates.
"So proud of him," Hurdle said. "Proud of him, proud of the words he shared, proud of the feelings he shared. It does take more than one man. One man gets to accept the award, and that one man understands now more than ever the difficulty of doing that job."
Banister was a 25th-round Draft pick by the Pirates in 1986. His one Major League at-bat -- an infield single -- came with Pittsburgh in 1991. He remained with the organization and eventually became Hurdle's bench coach, a role in which he served for four years.
Last offseason, Banister joined the Rangers. In his first year as a Major League manager, Banister led Texas to a 21-game turnaround and an American League West title.
"I thought he kept the positivity at a peak," Hurdle said. "He kept pouring into the players and the coaching staff and the people around him."
After their second season working together in Pittsburgh, Hurdle decided he wanted to help Banister begin preparing for his managerial future.
"I just said [to Pirates GM Neal Huntington], 'If something happened to me, who's our guy?' And we all agreed he's our guy," Hurdle said. "Once we agreed to that, I was going to take it upon myself to do everything I could to mentor, to coach, to get him involved."
So, Hurdle and Banister worked closely together in 2013. After the Bucs broke through and reached the postseason that year, Hurdle was somewhat surprised that no teams came calling for Banister.
A year later, after the Pirates returned to the playoffs, Banister's opportunity came with the Rangers. His instant success came as little surprise, at least not to Hurdle and the organization he called home for nearly 30 years.
"He was going to share a vision coming in and he was going to model the behavior that backed up that vision," Hurdle said. "So many people can use words well, but at the end of the day, it's about action. I believe he exhibited the action that was necessary throughout the year."