Banister calls Hurdle 'best' manager he's been around

New Rangers skipper fondly recalls serving under Pirates manager

Banister calls Hurdle 'best' manager he's been around

SAN DIEGO -- In the 29-year run with the Pirates that came to conclusion with his hiring as Texas manager, Jeff Banister got to know and work with seven different managers, a list that included such iconic names as Chuck Tanner and Jim Leyland.

The best of the group, the one who made the most profound impression on a first-time manager?

"Clint Hurdle," Banister said Monday during his media session at the Winter Meetings.

"Probably the best that I've been around," Banister said. "He's the best fisherman of men that I've ever been around. He never has bad words for anybody. He finds a way to really make everybody's day a little bit better. With the players, it [was] always trying to find the best words, the best actions that are going to allow those men to go out and perform every day. If they need an arm around their neck or a hand on their shoulder, or they need a kick in the behind. If they need words of praise or if they need some critical truth, he found a way to do it every single day.

"Not just as a group. It was individually. Not only the players, but also with the coaches. For four years I got to stand next to a guy that really, truly wanted to invest in other human beings and make their lives better."

Four years ago, Hurdle got the job for which Banister had interviewed. The strong bond they formed helped Banister realize his dream of managing -- the recommendation of Hurdle, the Rangers' 2010 batting coach, was influential in the hiring of Banister.

Banister's evaluation of Hurdle is particularly significant given the other accomplished men under whom he served during a Pirates career that began in 1986.

"Jim Leyland was just the fire, the passion, the determination," Banister said. "Gene Lamont was a little more cerebral, patient. Chuck Tanner was everybody's manager. I mean, everybody loved Chuck, and he knew everybody's name. His players loved him. He had a way of patting you on the back and kicking you in the rear at the same time. He found a way to get the best out of all of the guys that he had."

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.