Wednesday, March 2, 2011

#103 - Sal Bando

On another recent theme, this is the third action shot of a west coast guy in a row (there will be another one on the next post). That's a pretty neat streak. This one happens to be the captain of the champion Oakland A's at home. It would be nice to say that this shot was taken well before the start of the game. I doubt it though. With one championship under their belt and another two coming, Oakland had a pretty poor turnout that year: just over a million people to finish eighth in attendance. I know it was a recession year but that's crazy! It's too bad nobody is in the stands here because Sal was having another bang up year in '73 for them to witness, co-leading the AL in doubles, leading the league in total bases, and posting his second 100 RBI season (though baseball-reference has him at 98), while on the way to fourth place in AL MVP voting.

Sal Bando played ball at the baseball mecca Arizona State and was MVP of the College World Series in '65 when his .480 average led them to the school's first title. He had a couple teammates named Rick Monday and Reggie Jackson on that team. Sal was drafted in the sixth round by the A's and he was sped through the minors quickly, spending a season each at A, Double A, and Triple A and compiling an overall .279 average with a .371 OBA. He debuted in September of '66, returned the following May for about a month during which he hit only .143, and then returned again in September, hit 100 points higher that month and in the field did well enough to be the regular third baseman at Kansas City by the end of the '67 season. There he became an institution the next nine years - '74 was the only year he played less than 150 games - grew the requisite mustache, and was a three-time Series winner. In '68, his first full season, he was named captain by manager Hank Bauer. In '69 he had perhaps his best offensive season which included an OBA of .400. That year both he and Reggie were gunning for the RBI title and it apparently caused a bit of friction. There was a rumor that on one sacrifice fly hit by Bando with Reggie at third that Reggie did not tag up to deny Sal the RBI. They would both finish in the top four for RBI's in the AL that year.

By the early Seventies, Bando was earning a reputation by now as the second best defensive AL third baseman behind Brooks Robinson. In '70 he posted his best up top OBA of .407. In '71 he would place second in MVP voting. By '72 he was also player rep and the effects of his union responsibilities were somewhat evident in his reduced offensive numbers but the World Series ring that year probably did a lot to allay that. '74 was his third/second and final season of over 100 RBIs; in a poll of players that year he would win smartest AL player. In '75 Sal's numbers again declined pretty significantly. It was thought that was due in part to acrimonious contract discussions that spring that took the wind out of his sails. '76 would be a weird season for Sal: still captain he led the players in a near revolt against Charley O. That June the A's owner tried to trade Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to Boston and Vida Blue to the Yankees - he'd already sent Reggie and Ken Holtzman to Baltimore - and Bowie Kuhn blocked the deals. In response, Charlie O kept the three players out of his lineup for a week. At the time, the A's were still in serious contention for the division title and Bando wanted to have the team walk in response to his owner's actions. Charlie yielded and put the three back in the lineup, then lost the war when Sal and four other starters left after the season to free agency. Sal went to the Brewers where he had two pretty good seasons. After his RBI numbers fell pretty hard in '79 he was made a player/coach the next two seasons. In '81 he had his last hurrah as he started in the post-season and hit .294. Those were his final games. He hit .254 lifetime with 252 homers and over 1,000 RBIs. At the time of his retirement he and Brooks were the only two third basemen with over 250 lifetime HR's. He had on OBA of .352 and played in four All-Star games, as well as his second, third, and fourth place MVP seasons. In the post-season he hit .245 with 5 homers and 13 RBIs in 44 games. After he played he assumed front office duties for Milwaukee, first as assistant to the GM and then as GM, which lasted through '99.

All those 1970 walks contributed to Sal's fat OBA that year. The cartoon shows what a productive guy he was away from baseball. He also started a firm with another former player that granted small business loans. In the early 2000s he was CEO of a doll company - he was featured in one of SI's "Where Are They Now?" issues - and is currently a financial planner at yet another firm he co-founded.

Another west coast cross-league hookup:

1. Bando and Ted Kubiak '67 to '68 and '72 to '74 Athletics;
2. Kubiak and Bill Greif '75 to '76 Padres.

No comments:

Post a Comment