By Rosemary Pollock
RM Happy to Play for Calgary Cannons
CALGARY, ALBERTA -- Sixth-round draft pick, Brian Banks, knew that
coming out of high school to serve a two-year mission for The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posed risks to his baseball
career. A mission call could have him going where the only bats he
would see would have wings and any ball he he saw would be meant for
kicking and not throwing.
"Scouts were telling me, 'for your career, it's probably best if you
don't go," said the newly acquired multi-talented Cannon outfielder,
first baseman and catcher. "It's not a mandatory thing, you don't
have to do it. But it was something I always thought I would do. It
was a tough decision, but when I made it I think it was the right
thing for me. I grew up, became a man, got away from home."
Banks was sent to Seattle from 1991 to 1992, and was able to get in
the odd session in a batting cage. "I think I was fortunate to be in
the States," smiled Banks. "It probably was a blessing. It allowed me
to at least be able to maintain my baseball skills a little bit."
Banks returned from his mission to BYU and in his senior year,
Milwaukee made Banks a second-round pick. "It could've cost me a
little bit, but I don't think it did. It seemed like I was able to
come back and pick up where I left off, " Banks said. "I do know
players who went away for those two years and seemed to have lost
their skills," he added.
Banks spent seven years with the Brewers in the big league from 1996
to 1999. "Ironic, isn't it?" Banks laughed. "I grow up not drinking
beer, and I end up playing for the guys who make it." But the Brewers
cleaned house and by 2000, he and his wife traveled around Japan
while Banks played for the Fukuoka Daei Hawks. He then signed with
his favorite boyhood club, the Cubs and would have stayed if he
hadn't exercised a contractual out and joined Calgary.
"I would've loved to play for them in Wrigley Field," Banks admitted,
but is happy to be one more veteran on an experienced club. "We've
got a lot of professional hitters," he added. "I think this is going
to be fun for me."
New Cannon on mission
Calgary Alberta Canada Sun 12May01 S2
By Tom Brennan: Calgary Sun