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'Majors or Not, the Game of Their Lives'

10:12 AM, Mar 31, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Salena Zito, writing about baseball, in honor of Opening Day:

When he got The Call, Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister thought it was a joke.

He'd just returned to the apartment in Buffalo, N.Y., that he shared with another player for the Bisons, then a Pirates Triple-A farm team.

“The phone rang and my roommate said, ‘Hey, it's Terry Collins, he needs to talk to you.' I figured it was my wife, and my roommate was pulling a joke,” Banister said.

“How long have you been waiting for this phone call, Banny?” Collins, the Bisons' coach, nearly shouted into the phone.

Banister didn't answer.

In high school, he was told his leg would be amputated up to his knee. At age 17, after nearly a year in the hospital, battling cancer and a bone infection (the first three months with every visitor in a hospital mask and gown, to guard against germs), the star athlete finally got back into the game just in time for his senior year.

But the new coach had different plans; the night before tryouts, he said Banister wouldn't make the team. Banister pleaded for one more day, one more chance.

Whole thing here.

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