To find some insight into the character of new Rangers’ manager Jeff Banister, go no further than his Twitter handle.
Banister, who was introduced as the club’s 18th manager Friday morning, goes by @Bannyrooster28 on the social media application.
Bantam roosters, or “banty” roosters as farmers often call them, are typically smaller than the average chicken but compensate by out-roostering regular-sized roosters.
Although Banister, at age 50 is 6-foot-2, he was small for his age growing up in La Marque, just north of Galveston. Banty roosters would adopt an exaggerated swagger to make up for their stature.
“I was a little, small, scrappy guy who had to work his way around the neighborhood from time to time,” he said, smiling.
Emotion is a big part of Banister’s personality. He told his wife, Karen, who attended the introductory press conference at Globe Life Park with their daughter Alexandra and son Jacob, that he feared getting emotional.
“He is so emotional because he puts so much of himself into it,” Karen Banister said. “He’s the real deal. He’s one of the most loyal men ever and he will always remember where he came from with the Pirates, but he will give 100 percent of himself to the Rangers’ organization.”
For much of the news conference, Banister remained stoic and businesslike, but choked back emotion when he talked of his lone major league at-bat, a pinch-hit single in 1991.
“I carried a whole truckload of people with me down the line,” he said. “I’m still carrying that. I can’t put that down yet. As a kid, each one of us, we have dreams, we have fantasies of things we think we are and what we want to be, how we’re going to get there, the path by which we are going to get there and sometimes we get derailed, sometimes we adjust.”
When Rangers general manager Jon Daniels and assistant general manager Thad Levine visited the Banisters’ off-season home in League City, between Houston and Galveston, during the interview process, Banister warned that he lived in a regular house and lived a simple man’s life.
The son of a high school football coach drives a truck, wears cowboy boots and loves to hunt. He grew up an Astros fan and remembers sneaking into the Astrodome to watch Nolan Ryan pitch.
“He really is a hard-working, simple man,” said Karen Banister, who met Jeff at the University of Houston, which he attended from 1985-86. “He loves his family, loves God. I’m blessed.”
As the interview process intensified, Jeff asked Karen if she was on board with the move.
She was, of course. The family plans on buying a house in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Alexandra, who plays volleyball at Hill College in Hillsboro and hopes to transfer to either TCU or Auburn, was excited too.
Jacob, who is in seventh grade, was a little more apprehensive about leaving his friends and leaving a Pirates’ clubhouse he had grown accustomed to visiting.
Mom reassured him, however, that in no time he’ll be a welcomed visitor in the Rangers’ clubhouse in Arlington.
For a dream job that he said he has never chased, Banister is right where he hoped to be.
“To be able to come back home to a state I love, the opportunity was a no-brainer,” he said.