Sal Bando, captain of the A’s and third baseman on the World Series championship team from 1972-1974, has died at the age of 78 after a five-year battle with cancer, his family announced.
Bando was drafted by the A’s in the sixth round, then in Kansas City, in the first pick of the 1965 draft. Only two players drafted before him have amassed more bWAR over their careers than Bando’s 61.5: Johnny Bench (75.1 WAR), a Reds second-round pick and Hall of Famer in 1989, and Graig Nettles ( 68.0), a fourth-round pick by the Twins and later due to a tie with the Yankees.
From 1969 to 1973, Bando’s WAR (33.6) was the highest in baseball — higher than the other greats of that era: Pete Rose, Johnny Bunch, Reggie Jackson and Joe Morgan.
Bando made his debut for the A’s in 1966, appearing in 11 games and then 47 games in 1967. When the A’s moved west to Oakland, he became the team’s everyday third baseman. The following year, he made his first All-Star team with the A’s and hit 31 home runs while hitting .281 with a .400 OBP.
Bando credits Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio for his breakthrough in 1969 while he was with the A’s. The former Yankees outfielder had advised Bando to pack his stance and keep his head down in order to generate more power in the zone.
From 1971 to 1974, he finished 2nd, 30th, 4th and 3rd in American League MVP voting, averaged 153 games per season, batted .260/.362/.438 and had 22 home runs Hit and 93 runs scored.
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The A’s in the early ’70s had issues with each other off the field, but on the field, Salbando was the glue that kept everyone working toward the same goal. That’s why he was considered captain of the A team in those games.
It was Salbando who led the charge when Charlie Finley tried to get Mike Andrews to declare unwell after Andrews committed two errors in Game 2 to continue in the 1973 World Series against the Mets. The team owner revolts to protect his teammates.
Bando became a free agent on Nov. 1, 1976, and was chased by the Giants, Buccaneers and Brewers, but it was Milwaukee who brought the captain into play. He went on to play for the team for another five seasons and was even asked to be their manager after retiring, but he declined, feeling he was too close to the players.
From October 1991 to August 1999, Bando continued to serve as the Brewers’ general manager.
A’s induct Sal Bando into their Hall of Fame in 2022, along with Ray Fosse, Eric Chavez, Joe Rudy, Keith Lipman and Steve Vucinich.
Many players have worn his No. 6 jersey since he left Oakland, but the last player to wear it was Travis Buck in 2007-2010. New addition Jace Peterson, currently sixth on the A-team roster this coming season, will likely get a ton of playing time at Bando’s old spot, third base, on the same pitch Bando creates for the A’s. So many memories for fans.