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Sal Bando, Captain of Championship Oakland Athletics, Dies at 78


Sal Bando, the third baseman and captain of the Oakland Athletics within the Seventies through the team’s run of three consecutive World Series victories, died on Friday in Oconomowoc, Wis., a suburb of Milwaukee. He was 78.

The cause was cancer, Major League Baseball and Bando’s family announced in an announcement.

Together with Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue and Joe Rudi, Bando rose through the A’s farm system and powered the team’s biggest era of dominance. Apart from the mid-Seventies Athletics, only three squads of the Yankees (1936-39, 1949-53 and 1998-2000) have won three or more World Series in a row.

In a closely fought, back-and-forth World Series, the Athletics defeated the “Big Red Machine” Reds, starring Pete Rose and Johnny Bench, in 1972. They went on to beat the Mets within the 1973 Series and the Dodgers in 1974 — teams that included Tom Seaver and Don Sutton on their pitching staffs.

The Athletics were often called the “Swingin’ A’s” for his or her powerful offense, led by Jackson, and as “the Mustache Gang” for introducing a then-hip hirsute style into the clean-shaven conventionality of skilled baseball.

Bando was initially touted as a defensive talent, and he struggled early on attempting to hit big league pitching. He credited Joe DiMaggio — then an executive and occasional hitting coach for the Athletics — with getting him to shut up his stance and keep his head right down to hit for more power, The Sporting News reported in 1969.

Bando became the team captain that 12 months, when he was just 25 and in his second full major league season. His teammates respected his durability — he played every game or nearly every game during each of the nine full seasons he spent with the Athletics — and he hit for moderate but consistent power, averaging greater than 20 home runs and about 90 runs batted in.

“You don’t tell a Jackson, a Hunter or a Rudi what to do,” Bando told a team publication of the Milwaukee Brewers, for whom he was then playing, in 1978. “You lead by example, by giving 100%, by giving a continuous effort. A successful individual is one who is devoted.”

The Sporting News described the A’s of that era as “a team during which trouble bubbles like a live volcano,” with bitter fights between the players and the owner Charles O. Finley, however the publication added that “Bando, greater than anyone else, keeps teammates relaxed and interested by baseball.”

He was voted to 4 All-Star teams, but Bando didn’t benefit from the celebrity of teammates like Jackson, who gained in renown from playing later for the Yankees. The A’s went through periods with out a local television contract, and for a championship ball club, attendance at home games was slight.

“In one other town, someplace back East, we is likely to be heroes,” Bando told The Sporting News in 1973. “Here we’re not even something special.”

Bando was also not known for the statistical feats of a player like Jackson, who while playing for the Yankees hit three consecutive home runs within the 1977 World Series.

Yet in an in depth 2013 biography of Bando, the Society for American Baseball Research determined that from 1969 to 1973 his “wins above substitute” figure — which estimates the whole contribution of a player compared to a hypothetical likely substitute — was the best in baseball, beating out not only Jackson but additionally Rose and Bench.

Salvatore Leonard Bando was born on Feb. 13, 1944, in Cleveland. His father, Ben, was a carpenter and amateur softball player. His mother, Angela Bando, was a homemaker, and she or he also played softball. Sal grew up in Warrensville Heights, a Cleveland suburb.

After the 1976 season, Bando became a free agent and was signed by the Brewers. He helped the team establish a winning culture, however it didn’t find anything just like the success of the Athletics. He retired after the 1981 season and commenced to work within the Brewers’ front office. He was the overall manager for many of the Nineties, an era when the team often had a losing record.

Bando married Sandy Fortunato in 1969. Besides her, survivors include his sons, Sal Jr., Sonny and Stef.

In a 1982 essay for The Recent York Times, Bando reflected on witnessing his first opening day as a retired pro. He described the initial game of the season as a perennial source of tension: having to prove yourself once more to fans and reporters, work to comprehend your long-percolating dreams of the off-season and fit into uncomfortable latest uniforms.

“For the primary time, I can sit with my family and revel in America’s pastime,” he wrote. “My wife won’t have knots in her stomach and prayers on her lips worrying about my performance. Now I will be the one going after the food and drinks and keep the children sitting of their seats.

“I’m very thankful,” he continued, “for my profession and all of the blessings that got here with it, however it’s sure nice living a traditional life.”

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