Banister shares message of fan battling cancer

Rangers manager spoke with high school pitcher Reese, who was recently diagnosed with disease

Banister shares message of fan battling cancer

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister had a moving message for his team on Sunday. It came from Walker Reese, an 18-year-old high school pitcher in Lake Travis, Texas, who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Banister, who had to overcome his own battle with bone cancer when he was 16, spoke with Reese on Saturday night.

"So I asked him what type of coach-up message should I give our players tomorrow," Banister said, relating the conversation on Sunday morning. "And for an 18-year-old to have this perspective, he told me the message to deliver to each one of these guys individually is to play each game and prepare each day as if it was their last one that they get an opportunity to play.

"Out of respect to him I will walk around and give that message to each one of our guys."

Reese was diagnosed with Desmoplastic small-round-cell tumor three weeks ago. It is a form of cancer that usually attacks boys and young adult males. Reese was diagnosed after pitching a game for Lake Travis. The next day he was in the emergency room with what was first believed to be appendicitis. A CT scan revealed cancer.

A letter was sent to Banister to let him know about Reese's condition. Reese is a life-long Rangers fan who counts Ivan Rodriguez as his favorite player.

"It was a really cool experience to talk to someone as high up in the organization as him," Reese said Sunday. "He had a lot of things to say. It meant a lot to know that he was thinking of me."

Banister, with his "Never Ever Quit" mantra, has always been active in increasing awareness of the national fight against cancer. Being manager of the Rangers will allow him to spread his message from a higher platform.

"There is a certain responsibility, but I also think my message to him was to find something positive," Banister said. "Something that is really truly positive to him, and hang onto it with all might and to allow the people around him to be the strength. As I told you before, that's probably the most challenging thing, is to allow people around you to be the strength and not try to take it all upon yourself."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.