What’s up with ... former White Sox pitcher Floyd Bannister?

SHARE What’s up with ... former White Sox pitcher Floyd Bannister?
SHARE What’s up with ... former White Sox pitcher Floyd Bannister?

BY NEIL HAYES

For the Sun-Times

Former pitcher Floyd Bannister found himself driving to the White Sox’ spring-training facility last week. It wasn’t to sign autographs orto reminisce with former teammates, although he would end up doing both.

This wasn’t about his old career; it was about his current one. Bannister was delivering lights and other equipment for a New York Times photo shoot.

‘‘I just did a shoot with Mike Trout and Buster Posey,’’ Bannister said. ‘‘When spring training is here, there are a lot of athletes and golfers and endorsement shoots. It’s never boring. It allows me to have the schedule I want, and it’s a real treat for me to see all these different athletes at the pinnacle of their careers and have the opportunity to shake their hands.’’

Bannister didn’t plan to open the photographic studio and film- and video-production center Loft 19 when he retired in 1992 after a 15-year major-league career, including five with the Sox. It was his son, Brian, who grew up juggling dual passions for art and baseball. Brian studied digital design and photography while being teammates with former Cubs ace Mark Prior at USC.

Brian invested the $100,000 signing bonus he received after being selected in the seventh round of the 2003 draft on a 9,000-square-foot studio in Phoenix that since has hosted singers Beyonce, Selena Gomez, Brooks and Dunn and Nick Lachey, as well as Danica Patrick, Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Johnson and other athletes during the last10-plus years.

Bannister manages what is now three studios with more than 20,000 square feet for his son, who not only excelled in athletics and art but had a perfect score in math on the SAT.

During his five seasons with the Mets and Royals, Brian gained a reputation for using advanced statistics. His combination of major-league experience and cutting-edge statistical analysis prompted Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington to hire him as a scout and analyst in January.

‘‘I wouldn’t be at this level without him,’’ Bannister said of his son. ‘‘He really did his homework. The goal of the studio was to bring in the best photographers, filmmakers and videographers from around the country, rent them the best equipment and assist them with everything. It has really been something.’’

The Sox’ 1983 season is a frequent topic when Bannister talks about his career. The Sox dominated in the second half en route to the American League West title and their first postseason appearance since the 1959 World Series before falling to the Orioles in the American League Championship Series.

Bannister, a left-hander, lost nine of his first 12 decisions that season before winning 13 of 14 in the second half. He and right-handers LaMarr Hoyt and Richard Dotson amassed a combined record of 43-5 after the All-Star break.

‘‘It’s one of those things where you get into the second half and things start clicking and you can’t wait to get out there,’’ he said. ‘‘There was an inside competition between the position players and the pitching staff where nobody wanted to let anybody down. Everybody wanted to keep everything rolling in the right direction and keep pulling

for each other.

‘‘I was fortunate to win a lot of championships at the amateur level. A lot of things have to go your way. Things didn’t go our way in the playoffs. It was unfortunate.’’

The No. 1 overall draft pick in 1976, Bannister can relate to what rookie Carlos Rodon is going through. Rodon, the third overall pick last season, will start this season at Class AAA Charlotte despite a 3.06 ERA with 21 strikeouts and five walks in 17⅔ innings this spring.

‘‘Guys like Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver and Gaylord Perry used to say that sometime in your career, you’re going to doubt your ability,’’ Bannister said when he was asked about what advice he would give Rodon. ‘‘When Hall of Fame guys tell you that, it’s real. If you can create confidence at the level you’re at and keep moving forward, that’s key. You have to have something to fall back on that helps you get over the hump. This is such a mental game that you don’t want to go backward.

‘‘The sad part is, it takes so long to learn the game and master the pitches and be successful that when you achieve that, it’s usually when your arm breaks down on you and you’re done.’’

Contact Neil Hayes at nhayes40@gmail.com or at neilhayeswriter.com.

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