Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister worked professionally in baseball for over 30 years without ever taking an honest to goodness full-on family vacation. You know the kind. When you really disconnect, get away and have fun on a beach.
Oh, sure, Banister had been on a few hunting trips and fishing expeditions here and there, but nothing ever truly extravagant with the entire family, including daughter Alexandra and son Jacob.
That all changed in December, when TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle and Banister's wife Karen convinced the skipper to finally let his crew cut down.
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The Banisters, Schlossnagles and University of Houston baseball coach Todd Whitting's family all spent a long weekend at a house together in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in December. Cabo sits at the southern most tip of the Baja California Sur.
Whitting used to be an assistant under Schlossnagle. Banister played at Houston after growing up in nearby La Marque. Since Banister was hired by the Rangers in 2014 the three have become tight. So tight that they're taking family vacations together. They even had cups made up that read "Banny's first vacay!"
"It was awesome to get to see him and his family get to unwind for the few days we were there," Schlossnagle said. "We had some good baseball conversation but most of our time was spent talking about things outside of baseball and enjoying great food and time together."
Yes, three men who have devoted their lives to baseball couldn't help but get into a few conversations about leading a team. But the talks were more about organization and how to manage personalities rather than whether the DH is good or bad for the game.
"There was plenty of non-baseball time during the trip," said Whitting, who along with his wife Tara played a round with Banister and his son at Cabo Real Golf Club. "Program management is something we're always trying to learn. It's about getting teams ready to play, teaching guys how to deal with the negativity and how hard the game of baseball is."
Banister keeps up with Cougars' baseball and will occasionally shoot texts to Whitting after a big win.
"We all lead somewhat similar lives that are public and revolve around winning and losing baseball games," Schlossnagle said. "I think we all understand the pressure that goes with the profession and Jeff is certainly at the top of that so it was refreshing for all of us to be able to relax."
Banister has spoken to both the TCU and Houston baseball teams and has become something of a mentor to Schlossnagle and Whitting.
"Jeff is such a great human being and is so selfless with his time with friends," Schlossnagle said.
Perhaps they'll make it an annual gathering.
"There is no doubt that we all want to do it again," Schlossnagle said. "Hopefully for a much longer time period."