Brian Banks is a former professional baseball player. Banks was drafted in the second round of the 1993 MLB draft by the Milwaukee Brewers and signed a professional contract. He made his MLB debut with the Brewers just three seasons later in September 1996. Banks would go on to play six seasons in the majors with the Brewers (1996-99) and the Florida Marlins (2002-03). In 2003, Banks reached the pinnacle of his professional career, when he helped the Florida Marlins get to the World Series where they won over the New York Yankees. He also played a season with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in Japan.
Banks shared a pivotal moment of his career with the Deseret News:
- Banks figured he had finally cemented his place on the Brewers’ major league roster in 1999. After moving up and down a lot in previous years, he was finally seeing consistent playing time and hitting the ball well as the season drew to an end.
- Less than a month before the end of the season, the manager and general manager called Banks for bad news. He was going down in exchange for another pitcher.
- “I was absolutely devastated,” Banks said. “I told them I was done. 'Don’t call me back up so I can become a free agent. I’ll play for another team if you don’t want me.'"
- Banks considered giving up the game altogether. He had earned his way to the majors by working hard and not cutting corners while less-disciplined players appeared to be rewarded for taking shortcuts, Banks said.
- Fortunately for Banks, his wife talked him into staying. He didn’t know why this was happening, but he did as he was told.
- He was glad he did.
- Banks’ disgruntled attitude changed a few nights later in a hotel room when his young roommate, a player from the Dominican Republic named Santiago Perez, asked him if he was a Mormon.
- Banks said he was.
- Perez said his girlfriend was a Mormon and he had been meeting with the missionaries. He pulled out a Book of Mormon, said he’d been reading it and knew it was true. But some of his family members and teammates had been giving him a hard time about the church and telling him not to get involved.
- At that point, the Spirit entered the room and a gospel discussion ensued. Banks understood why he’d been sent down. Feeling sufficiently humbled, he bore testimony like he was a missionary again, and told Perez he was following the right path and not to listen to the faith-shakers. Both men came away feeling strengthened.
- The very next day, Banks was called back up to the big leagues.
- “That is one experience in my career I am still floored by. It opened my eyes to the fact that the Lord was in control of my life and I’ve never doubted from that moment on. He knew where I needed to be, when I needed to be there,” said Banks, currently the elders quorum president in his LDS ward. “That’s how the Lord works. He puts us in situations to share our testimonies and strengthen others.”
Banks was born on September 28, 1970, in Mesa, Arizona. He was named the Arizona High School Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year in 1989. He had been selected in the sixth round of the MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles. Instead of signing a professional baseball contract, he chose to attend Brigham Young University.
Banks had a successful freshman year as a catcher and designated hitter for the Cougars in 1990 where he hit .278 with four home runs and 28 RBI. Following a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Seattle from 1991 to 1992.
“For me it came down to I needed to serve a mission and I made that decision through what you are taught as a youth, through prayer, fasting and scripture study,” Banks said. “I also drew upon the feeling that I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do, and if it was meant to be, I would be blessed for it. I took peace in that.”
Banks returned to BYU where he started all 57 games in 1993. His 20 home runs were third in the NCAA and his 73 RBI was 11th.
Following his sophomore season, Banks was named an All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association and Baseball News. He was also named first team All-District and All-Western Athletic Conference.
After retiring from professional baseball in 2004, Banks earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Arizona State. He then earned a degree from ATSU Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health in 2011, where he graduated with honors as a member of the Omicron Kappa Upsilon National Dental Honor Society. He did a two-year residency as a pediatric dentist at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City from 2012 to 2013 and later opened a pediatric dentistry practice in Mesa. He has also been on staff at Cardon’s Children’s Hospital in Mesa since 2016.
Banks has served as the chairman for Give Kids a Smile event at the Arizona School of Dentistry; served a humanitarian mission to Atoyac, Mexico, with the Flying Samaritans to provide dental treatments and surgical procedures; and was the honorary speaker at the opening of the BSA National Jamboree in West Virginia. Banks has also coached little league baseball and All Stars for the Four Peaks Little League for many years. He was inducted into the Mesa Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 and was inducted into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2021.
He and his wife, Tarrah Davis Banks, have four children.