Remembering Sal Bando: Former Italian / American All Star (1966 - 1981)

Salvatore Leonard Bando was born February 13, 1944, in the Little Italy section of Warrensville Heights, 16 miles southeast of Cleveland, Ohio. 

His father Ben was a self-employed carpenter & accomplished softball infielder. His mother Angela was a home maker who also enjoyed sports playing both softball & basketball. Ben & Angela had a daughter Victoria & sons Salvatore & Christopher.

The six-foot third baseman played baseball at Arizona State University with his future Oakland teammate Rick Monday & seven others who made the major leagues. There his manager was the legendary coach Bobby Winkles who would later go on to coach Bando in Oakland in 1974. Winkles would also manage the California Angels. In 1965 Bando batted .317 was All Conference & batted .480 (12-25) with 9 RBIs in the College World Series.

Bando was selected in the sixth round of the 1965 draft after Rick Monday who was the first-round pick of the Kansas City Athletics.

MLB Debut: He got a cup of coffee in September 1966, and made the club in early May the next year. He was only batting .143 & got sent back down to AAA where he hit .291 at Vancouver, returning to the Athletics in September. In 1968 Charlie Finley moved the franchise to Oakland & Bando became the team’s main third baseman for the next nine seasons He played in the era in the shadows of Brooks Robinson, or else he may have been the best third baseman of his era.

He played every game for Oakland the next two seasons & by 1969 he was one of the A.L.’s true sluggers. Bando also drew a lot of walks & posted on base percentages over .400% both years. At the time Joe Dimaggio was coaching in the A's organization & Bando credits him with helping his batting stance & hitting ability.

That year he hit 31 HRs (8th in the AL) with 25 doubles, 113 RBIs (4th in the A.L.) 106 runs scored (4TH in the A.L.) 171 hits (6th) & .281 average. He hit two grand slams & made the first of four All Star teams. He followed that with a another good 1970 season, twenty HRs twenty doubles 75 RBIs & 118 walks with a .407 on base %.

In 1971 the A’s began their dominance of the AL West, winning their first of five straight divisional titles. That year Bando was runner up to teammate Vida Blue for the MVP Award, hitting 24 HRs with 25 doubles, 88 walks & 94 RBIs (4th in the AL) batting .271. He was the league's third best fielding third baseman as well & was named team Captain.

Captain Sal led the raucous Oakland A's “Mustache Gang” dynasty that would go on to win three straight World Series from 1972-1974. During the A's championship years, he led the club in RBIs three times. In a ten-year period (1968 – 1977) he is second to only Reggie Jackson in RBIs and fourth overall in the A.L. in HRs with 209.

1071 ALCS: In 1971 the A’s made their first post season appearance, losing the ALCS battle to the Baltimore Orioles. In the 71 ALCS Sal batted .364 with two doubles and a solo HR in Game #3.

1972 Championship Season: Bando had an off year with just 15 HRs 77 RBIs & a .236 average. In June during an Oakland eight game win streak, he drove in runs in five of the games, including three straight games with two or more runs driven in. He also homered three times in that stretch.

On the 4th July in New York, he took Mel Stottlemyer deep with a grand slam HR leading his team to a 4-2 victory. When the AL New York team came to Oakland, Bando hit a pair of HRs off the wife swapping Fritz Peterson helping his A's complete a four game sweep. In September he drove in 17 runs as the A's won their second straight AL Western title.

1972 ALCS: Sal only hit .200 (4-20) against the Detroit Tigers, but Oakland won the Series in five games. 

1972 World Series: In the classic 1972 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, he hit .269 (7-26) with two walks, two runs scored a double & an RBI. Bando had two hits in the A's Game #4 win at the Oakland Coliseum, as well as two hits in Game #6 at Cincinnati. 

Bando came to bat in the 6th inning of Game #7 with the Oakland leading 2-1, Alan Lewis (the Panamanian Express) was on second base after he came in to pinch run for Gene Tenace who broke the tie with a double. Bando doubled off Pedro Borbon and scored Lewis in what turned out to be the winning run.

1973 Championship Season: The A’s Captain played in every game and rebounded to have a great year. He began with 5 HRs & 13 RBIs in the month of April. In May he beat up New York & Boston on an East Coast Road trip with eight hits, three HRs & six RBIs. 

In mid-July he drove in at least one run in nine of thirteen games. On September 2nd he had a four-hit day with two doubles, a HR & four RBIs in game at Kansas City against the Royals.

He had a huge September with 12 doubles, five HRs & 29 runs driven in. He led the league in doubles (32) extra base hits (64) & total bases (295) in 1973, was fourth in both HRs (29) & RBIs (98). He hit a career high .287 with 97 runs scored (5th in the AL) 82 walks (7th in the AL) a .375 on base % (8th in the AL) and came in fourth in the league’s MVP voting.

1973 ALCS: In the series against the Baltimore Orioles, he only went 3-18 (.167) but again his hits came at a big time. In Game #2 he hit two HRs off Dave McNally and nearly missed a third, getting robbed by centerfielder Al Bumbry.

1973 World Series:  In the World Series against the New York Mets, he went 6-26 with two extra base hits & an RBI. In Game #2 he drove in the A's first run with a 1st inning triple off Jerry Koosman & he later scored on Jesus Alou's double.

After Game #2 owner Charlie Finley tried to place utility infielder Mike Andrews on the DL after he had made two errors in the 12th inning. Captain Bando supported Andrews threatening to forefeet the next game. He & his teammates wore a black arm band in Andrew's honor as the incident blew into a full-scale baseball media scandal. Andrews was reactivated after commissioner Bowie Kuhn stepped in.


In Game #3 at New York, Bando doubled off Tom Seaver in the 6th inning and scored when Gene Teance drove him in with a double. He had two hits in that game which Oakland won in extra innings. 

In Game #4 he went hitless but scored the A's only run after drawing a walk. In Game #6 back in Oakland he singled off Seaver in the 3rd inning then scored on Reggie Jackson's single giving Oakland a 2-0 lead. In the final game he went 0-4 as the A's beat the Met and won their second straight World Series titles.

1974 Championship Season: Bando was once again one of the most dominant hitters in the American League. He began the year with a huge five RBI Day at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium with a HR a double & a sac fly. In May when the Indians came to Oakland, he hit BRs in back-to-back games of a double header. 

In the month of June, he drove in 24 runs including having yet another five RBI day. It came against the California Angels on June 24th when he hit a grand slam HR off Barry Raziano & singled home another run earlier.

 On July 14th he hit a three run HR at Shea Stadium leading the A's to a 7-3 win over the AL New York team who were playing there while they were doing renovations to their ballpark. A week later Bando hit a pair of HRs against the Twins leading the A's to a 5-3 win.

He began August driving in ten runs in the first five days, including two games where he drove in three run each time. In September he hit 6 HRs with 17 RBIs mostly in the early part of the month.

Bando came in third in the MVP voting with 22 HRs (5th in the AL) 103 RBIs (2nd in the AL) 86 walks (5th in the AL) 21 doubles & a .353 on base %, although his batting average dropped to .243. He also led the league with 13 sacrifice flies.

Those Oakland players were constantly feuding with each other & as well as with their owner Charlie Finley. After manager Dick Williams resigned in 1973, the team didn’t take to new manager Alvin Dark with the same respect. In June 1974, after a disappointing loss, Bando commented to the press saying Dark “couldn't manage a meat market."

The A’s still went on to win another World Series, their third straight. 

1974 ALCS: In another ALCS rematch against the Baltimore Orioles, Bando hit two more HRs; the first in Game #2 at Oakland in the A's 5-0 win. The other in Game #3 off Jim Palmer which was the only run of the game. In the clincher Game #4 Bando scored both of Oakland’s runs after drawing walks each time. 

1974 World Series: In the 1974 first all California World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he struggled batting just .063. Bando had one hit, but drove in two runs, in the final game (Game #5) his only hit was an RBI base hit in the A’s 5-2 victory.

Post Season Career: In his post season career which spanned six seasons, five straight seasons in Oakland, Bando hit five HRs (all coming in the ALCS) with 13 RBIs overall, four in the World Series. He batted .245 with 39 hits 9 doubles 18 walks & a .328 on base %.


After the Championships: Bando spent two more seasons in Oakland, winning another AL West title in 1975. He hit 15 HRs with 24 doubles & 78 RBIs batting .230. He played in another ALCS in 1975, but this time the A's Dynasty was ended when they were beaten by the Boston Red Sox. In the ALCS he batted .500 (6-12) with a pair of doubles & two RBIs. 

By 1976 free agency was on the horizon, and Charlie Finley tried to trade or sell off his players from the A’s Dynasty years. Bando rallied behind teammates Rollie Fingers, Joe Rudi & Vida Blue Finley tried to bench them, after their trades were voided by the league. The team voted 21-0 to strike if the players didn’t play.

That year Bando finished his eleventh season as an A’s player and was second in the league with 27 HRs. He drove in 84 runs with 27 doubles, while batting .240. He was granted free agency on November 1st, 1976, and signed with the Milwaukee for 1977. In Milwaukee he averaged 17 HRs & 80 RBIs during his first two seasons, hitting a best .285 in 1978.

His playing career winded down over the next three seasons and he became a Brewers player/coach. He played his last game in 1981, making one more post season appearance with the 1981 Brewers, hitting .294 (5 -17) with two doubles & a pair of walks in the ALDS.

Career Stats: In a 16-season career, Bando was a .254 hitter, with 1790 hits 289 doubles 38 triples 242 HRs & 1039 RBIs. He drew 1031 walks (110th all time) was bit by 75 pitches while posting a .352 on base % & .760 OPS in 2019 games played (231st all time). 

He retired among the all-time leaders at third base in games played 1896 (17th all time), 3720 assists (15th all time) and 345 double plays turned at third base (7th all time). 

He had 1647 career put outs (29th all time) with a .959 fielding % (86th all time) committing 228 errors (63rd all time). 

All Star: Bando played in eight different post seasons (44 games), winning three World Series while making four All Star teams.

Retirement: Bando was the Milwaukee Brewers' general manager from 1991-1999. The Brew Crew only had one winning season during those years, mostly due to being in a small market with a low payroll. The worst move he didn’t make was not resigning Hall of Famer, Paul Molitor in 1992. 

Later Bando was a CEO of a Wisconsin based Doll Company.

Honors: Bando was elected to the A's Hall of fame in 2022. He was elected in the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013.

The Simpsons: Bando did a voice cameo with Gene Tenace in the Simpsons episode "Regarding Margie" in 2007. "It only took 15 or 20 minutes to record the voice-over," says Bando, "but more people ask me about that than anything else." 

Family: Sal’s younger brother, Chris Bando also played in the major leagues, as a backup catcher in the 1980’s.

Sam was married to his wife Sandy for 54 years. Together they have three sons.

Passing: On January 22nd, 2023, Bando passed away at age 78 after a five-year battle with cancer.

Comments

Richard Hausig said…
I remember him from 73 on and he was clutch, a great leader and a really fine player. RIP Sal even though you broke my 8 year old heart in 73.

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