Funny thing because he felt great warming up in the bullpen. But when he switched from the Royals' baseballs to the game balls, it was like grabbing an eel.
"Every team rubs 'em up differently," Bannister said.
He tried to make an adjustment in his grip.
"There was no humidity, it was a windy night and the ball felt very glassy to me," he said. "I just really battled it. That's all it was."
So Bannister, hoping to get some sweat in his hands for a humid feel, ducked out of the dugout and up into the visitors' clubhouse to run his hands under hot water and use handwarmers. Turned out that the TV feed of the game against the White Sox had been blocked off and playing in the clubhouse instead was the Chicago Blackhawks' hockey playoff game. And that's what Bannister saw as he sat in the trainers' room between innings.
"I was in there holding handwarmers and nobody knew the inning had ended," Bannister said. "Somebody ran up and said, 'Banny, you gotta get out there!' "
It had been a quick half-inning. Bannister hustled across the dressing room and down the flight of stairs to the dugout. Meanwhile, the mound was empty.
"Then I ran out and the umpire asked me was I OK and then he goes, 'Hurry up!' The infielders weren't taking ground balls anymore, I didn't know if it'd been 10 minutes, I didn't know if it'd been five," Bannister said. "I didn't know if I was going to get fined or suspended. I had no concept of how long the inning had been over."
So Bannister hurriedly threw one warmup toss instead of the usual eight just to get the fourth inning under way. As it turned out he faced three batters, walking two and giving up a single, and his outing was over.
Not surprisingly there was speculation that Bannister was injured or something was wrong with his arm, causing his tardiness. Not so.
"I've been pitching 12 years between college and pro ball," he said, "and it's the first time I've been late for an inning. And it was because of the NHL playoff game."