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Rangers History Today: The End of The Jeff Banister Era

The Texas Rangers made a managerial change on this day, dismissing a skipper that led them to a pair of division titles.

On this date in Texas Rangers history, the club dismissed manager Jeff Banister.

The moment came on September 21, 2018, as the Rangers were stumbling toward a 67-win season. By the time the Rangers released Banister, the Rangers were 64-88. Don Wakamatsu would take over for the remainder of the season, and the Rangers went 3-7 in their final 10 games.

Banister came to the Rangers for the 2015 season, becoming the ultimate replacement to Ron Washington, who had resigned toward the end of the 2014 season.

Banister, a native of La Marque, Texas, played in just one Major League game, which was on July 23, 1991, and saw Banister record a hit. But that was a miracle unto itself. He survived bone cancer in high school, which nearly resulted in the amputation of one of his legs. He also broke three vertebrae in his neck during a home-plate collision while playing at Lee College. After spending 10 days paralyzed and recovering, he became a junior college All-American and played for the Houston Cougars.

After retiring, Banister became a long-time assistant coach in the Minor and Major Leagues, spending nearly 20 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, the team that took him in as a player. He spent time as a minor league manager and worked his way up to bench coach for the Pirates, second-in-command to former Rangers hitting coach Clint Hurdle, from 2010-14.

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The Rangers finally gave him his first MLB managerial job. And, in his first two seasons, Banister led the Rangers to American League West titles. In 2015, the Rangers won 88 games and played one of the most eventful playoff series in team history, a 3-2 loss in the American League Division Series to the Toronto Blue Jays. In 2016, the Rangers won an AL-high 95 games, another division title, but were swept by the Blue Jays in the ALDS.

After those two seasons, the Rangers’ descent was quick. Despite opening 2017 with the 6th-highest payroll in baseball, the Rangers won just 78 games. Then in 2018, things came off the rails, leading to Banister’s dismissal.

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