Willie Banks, 1991 Fleer Ultra Prospects series
I would like to say first and foremost that if I could go back to a time before I was born, I would change my name to Willie Banks. Not that I’d change families—I’d just change the family name by convincing my ancient ancestor, O’Reilly O’Kenny, to change his surname to Banks. I would do this by getting him really drunk, obviously. Then I would convince my dad to name me “Willie,” also by getting him drunk. What stereotype? Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Speaking of Willie Banks, please don’t for a second get this Willie Banks confused with the gospel singer famous for hits like, “Lord You Been Good”—sayeth the Lord, “It’s ‘Lord, You Have Been Good.’ C’mon, Willie”—or the other American athlete, who Wikipedia describes as an “American athlete" and “the originator of the now common hand clapping that takes place during many track and field events.” So, if you ever get that Trivial Pursuit question about who invented hand-clapping, you have your answer. You’re welcome.
No, this Willie Banks is the one who
Although still some time away from pitching for the parent club, Willie Banks is the type of pitcher that makes scouts lick their chops.
Other things that make professional baseball scouts lick their chops are a) free press box chicken fingers, b) players who are scrappy, and c) old, black and white photos of Ingrid Bergman where she is showing her arms.
He is a high-school phenom with a 90 + MPH fastball and a willingness to learn the other pitches necessary to round out a Major League hurler.
Me: What type of pitcher really makes you lick your proverbial chops?
Scout: Two things about a pitcher really make me lick my chops. First, if he threw hard in high school. If a guy threw hard in high school, my saliva starts going, and I’m getting ready to lick chops.
Me: Okay, let’s stop with licking chops thing.
Scout: Second, if the guy is willing to learn new pitches.
Me: Do you run into a lot of young pitchers who are simply unwilling to learn new pitches in the interest of making them better and earning a multi-million dollar MLB salary?
Me: So in that respect, virtually every pitcher makes you lick your chops?
He was the first-round choice of the Twins in the June, 1987 draft; curiously, the highest draft choice to ever come out of New Jersey.
Curious because … New Jersey is famous for its surplus of chop-licking inducing pitchers?
At Orlando, in 1990, he showed flashes of promise, winning seven games and compiling 114 K’s, but he was told to play Winter Ball
Is winter ball some kind of punishment?
to help him widen his array of pitches.
It’s pretty obvious to me now that Willie Banks only threw a fastball.
He responded excellently, going 9-1 with a 2.56 ERA and earned Second-Team All-Star honors in Venezuela.
Pfft. Who hasn’t earned Second-Team All-Star honors in Venezuela?
Did you know?
The first person to clap his hands at a track and field event was sentenced to six months in prison for disorderly conduct.