BROOKLYN, NY- Brian Bannister’s first year in the major’s hasn’t gone exactly as planned, landing
on the disabled list on April 29 after straining his hamstring trying to score a run against the San Francisco Giants, but
a trip back to where he first opened up the eyes of many of his most devoted fans, Keyspan park, on September 6 for Brian
Bannister Bobble-Head night, put things into perspective for the young right-handed pitcher.
“We had a lot of great memories here,”
said Bannister, who pitched for the Cyclones in 2003 and made the NY-Penn League All-Star team. “The same fans are still
here that cheered for me in 2003. There’s not a better place to play your first year in professional baseball. It sets
such a great foundation for making it to the big leagues. To play in front of 8,000 people and on TV right off the bat is
something not a lot of guys get to experience.”
The night was also special because Bannister
became the first pitcher in Cyclones history to have his number honored, as a plaque with his name and number now resides
next to Danny Garcia’s atop the party deck at Keyspan. For someone that was expecting to only see a personalized Bobble-Head
before the game, it was pretty unexpected.
“It was a huge surprise. I was here
in 2003 when Danny [Garcia] got his and I wasn’t even expecting that,” said Bannister. “I was just really
happy about the Bobble-Head. It looks just like me, they did a good job”
At the time of his injury, Bannister was
2-0 with a 2.89 ERA through his first five starts in the majors and has had to watch most of the Mets dominance this season
from everywhere else but the dugout. During his long stint on the DL, the poised Arizona native was itching to get back in the mix in the New
York starting rotation.
“It was very tough, it was a mental
challenge” said Bannister. “With an arm injury, like Tommy John, you know you’re going to be out a year.
I was dealing with something that we didn’t know exactly what happened at first; there were complications, but it turned
out to just be a running injury. I’ve made it past now and my arm’s as healthy as it ever was.”
Bannister even kidded that he’ll
probably be taking it a little easier on the base paths for a while.
“If you noticed in my last start
against the Phillies, I didn’t run as hard past first base,” said Bannister. “It was kind of a little inside
Getting called back up to the big team
on August 24, Bannister would unfortunately suffer his first loss in the majors just a day later, but was elated to be back
on the team during the playoff push and feels he’s learned a lot in his first year in the majors.
“My dad [Floyd Bannister] only had
one opportunity to play in the post-season and he never played in the World Series; we’re almost there,” said
Bannister. “It doesn’t get any better than that, especially in New York. I can’t think of a better first
year in the major leagues regardless of all the trials I’ve endured. To be a part of a team this special as a rookie
is a rare opportunity. There are some guys that wait a whole career to play on a team like this.”