Q&A with Brian Bannister

Only one year removed from University Of Southern California, the 6'2, 202 lb, 23 year old Brian Bannister has moved rapidly through the Mets organization. Starting in Brooklyn last season, Bannister has made it all the way up to AA-Binghamton after beginning this season in St. Lucie. Brian comes from good pedigree, his father was Floyd Bannister, a major league pitcher that played mostly with the White Sox. We caught up with Brian in Binghamton for a Q&A session.

NYF: How did you come to be named Brian?

Brian Bannister: Mom always liked names starting with the letter "B". My younger brother, a pitcher with USC, was named Brett.

NYF: Were you always a pitcher?

Bannister: No I wasn't. I didn't pitch until my freshman year in college. In HS I was an middle infielder, playing both second base and shortstop.

NYF: How did you come to be a pitcher?

Bannister: Everyone wants to be a pitcher. In high school I was too small, too scrawny. When I entered USC they had established middle infielders so I decided to pitch so I could play.

NYF: How small were you?

Bannister: As a sophmore in HS I was 5'5, 120 lbs, by my senior year I was 5'10, 170 lbs. Though I wasn't worried. My Dad said he was a late bloomer and so was I. I'm now 6'2.

NYF: Why did you choose to attend USC?

Bannister: Great baseball, great academics. I contacted the coach and asked him if I would have a chance to play. When he learned that I had an academic scholarship he was thrilled to have me.

NYF: An academic scholarship? You must have been a real good student.

Bannister: I was. I scored 1430 on the SATs.

NYF: What was your major?

Bannister: I majored in fine arts.

NYF: Which of the fine arts?

Bannister: Photography. I have a studio back home in Arizona.

NYF: Where you drafted out of high school?

Bannister: I wasn't. I was too small. Besides I was serious about going to college.

NYF: Were you surprised the Mets drafted you?

Bannister: No. I had a good relationship with the Mets area scout, Steve Levitt. He followed me a lot my last year in college. He liked my work ethic.

NYF: Did you play any other sports besides baseball?

Bannister: Soccer up until I started high school. I was a forward. There was one thing I could do in soccer and that was score goals.

NYF: Is it easy to be the son of a major leaguer (His dad is Floyd Bannister, a pitcher for many years for the White Sox)?

Bannister: The only negative is I didn't have a Dad who I could have day to day interaction with. But the positives, hanging out in major league clubhouses, getting exposed to the game, meeting the best players, outweigh that lone minus. Baseball was our family's life. I would attend school the first three quarters, the last one, my family would pack up and go to the spring training home of my Dad's team. Early on it would be Sarasota, FL (the spring home of the White Sox). When they shifted their facility to Arizona, we didn't have to travel very far. For that last semester, the teachers will hand me my assignments and I will have to fulfill them via mail or over the phone.

NYF: What was your Dad's influence in your baseball career?

Bannister: My Dad never forced me, or any of my brothers, into baseball. He always told us whatever you chose, I will encourage you. I guess going to a baseball game everyday choosing baseball was a natural one. It made me a student of the game and it is natural to keep on doing something one is good at and I always thought I was good at baseball. Though I have other interests it is baseball for now as an athlete's life is a short one. I could always play baseball and then say pursue, say, photography a number of years down the road. One can't do something else then go back to baseball.

NYF: Besides Brett, any other siblings?

Bannister: I have an even younger brother. He's in high school and he plays baseball. Like I was growing up, he's a middle infielder. NYF: Then like you he's going to become a pitcher in college?

Bannister: (laughing) Maybe.

NYF: What was your favorite team?

Bannister: (Acting like it was a stupid question) My Dad's team.

NYF: Besides your Dad, who was your favorite player?

Bannister: When you hang around major league clubhouses one knows the players on another level then just the way they play or the numbers they put up. So for me it is George Brett because he was the nicest person I met in baseball.

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