Longtime former big leaguer and executive Sal Bando passed away yesterday at age 78. Bando played with the Athletics franchise from 1966-76 and then with the Brewers from 1977-81 before becoming Milwaukee’s general manager for the 1992-99 seasons.
As per Bando’s family, “It is with a heavy heart, the Bando family is sad to announce the passing of its beloved husband and father, Sal, who last night lost his battle with cancer that began over five years ago. Sandy, Sal’s wife of 54 years, and sons Sal Jr., Sonny and Stef, send their love to family, friends and fans who mourn the loss of a humble and faithful man.”
Bando was a sixth-round pick for the then-Kansas City Athletics in the 1965 draft, and he broke into the majors the next season. By 1968, Bando had become the starting third baseman for the A’s in their inaugural season in Oakland, and he quickly became a key member of a budding dynasty. From 1969-74, Bando hit .265/.376/.445 with 141 homers, and his 34.7 fWAR was the fifth-highest of any player in the majors. That six-year period saw Bando make four All-Star teams, finish in the top four of AL MVP voting on three occasions (including a second-place finish to teammate Vida Blue in 1971), and win three World Series rings as the A’s three-peated from 1972-74.
There was no shortage of controversy on and off the field for those Athletics clubs, and yet Bando was a rock of stability as the team’s captain. However, Bando had his own share of issues with A’s owner Charlie Finley, stemming from contract disputes and Bando’s increasing leadership role with the MLB Players Association. After the 1976 season, Bando left the A’s as a free agent to sign a five-year deal with the Brewers, beginning the next chapter of his career.
While Bando’s didn’t match his production from his Oakland heyday, he was still a contributor to a Brewers team that had four straight winning seasons from 1978-81, which included a postseason appearance in 1981. Bando was only a part-time player in 1981, and decided to retire after 16 MLB seasons in order to transition into a new role in the Brewers’ front office. Bando worked as a special assistant to general manager Harry Dalton from 1982 until Bando himself was named to the top job himself following the 1991 season. Unfortunately, Bando’s tenure as GM included only one winning season, and he resigned the job partway through the 1999 campaign.
We at MLBTR send our condolences to Bando’s family, friends, and teammates.
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