An ironman third baseman who led the American League four times in games played, Bando was a member of the Oakland A’s dynasty of the early 1970s that captured three consecutive World Championships. Sal, who became the Milwaukee Brewers General Manager after retirement, was a four-time All-Star who ranks in the Top 30 in career putouts at third base and the Top 15 in career assists at the position.
Drafted by the Kansas City A’s in the 1965 draft–the same year they took college teammate Rick Monday first overall–Bando was summoned by the parent club in 1966. He looked good in a brief trial at the Majors in ’66 but took a step back in 1967. When the A’s left Kansas City and relocated to Oakland, Sal broke out. He played in all 162 games for the A’s in 1968 and led American League hot corner custodians in runs scored.
The A’s had all the pieces in place when they left Kansas City, with Bando, Catfish, Reggie and Rudi and the kids came together to build a powerhouse out west. The A’s finished in sixth place their first year in Oakland then steadily climbed the ladder with a second place finish in ’69. During the 1969 season, Sal established himself as a rising star with the A’s. His power came to life as he clubbed 31 homeruns and drove in 113 runs. He led AL third basemen in batting average and of all the infielders in the Major Leagues only he and Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey reached 100 in runs scored, RBI and walks.
Oakland had another second place finish in 1970 under skipper John McNamara but in ’71 Mac’s replacement, Dick Williams, was able to get them over the hump. The A’s won the AL west with Sal leading AL third basemen with 94 RBI. He hit a meaty .364 in the ALCS but his Oakland squad fell to the Baltimore Orioles. Oakland wouldn’t lose another postseason series until 1975.
Bando won the first of three World Series rings in 1972 when he again paced American League third basemen in RBI. Clearly the top third baseman in the junior circuit in 1973, Sal paced the league in doubles and total bases while leading his position peers in runs, hits, homers, RBI, walks, batting average and slugging average. An obvious All-Star selection, Bando finished fourth in MVP voting. He capped the season with a strong showing in the playoffs as he rapped two homeruns in the ALCS.
Sal came in second in the American League in the RBI department in 1974 as he was the only American League infielder to eclipse 100. He enjoyed another ALCS power surge in ’74 when he blasted a pair of homeruns off Baltimore pitching. For the third year in a row, the A’s won the World Series title. They were still the AL West’s top team in 1975 but the Red Sox bested the A’s in the ALCS even though Sal hit at a monstrous .500 clip (6-for-12 with a .667 slugging average).
Oakland had a second place finish in 1976 under skipper Chuck Tanner as Bando was the only 20 HR/20 SB infielder in the American League. But the A’s had already begun to disband with Catfish Hunter leaving via free agency. Bando did the same after the ’76 season when he signed a free agent deal with the Brewers. He hit .285 for the Brewers in 1978 and was their regular hot corner custodian in ’79 but his numbers began to dive. He ended his career with a good showing in the 1981 Division Series.
G 2,019/R 982/H 1,790/2B 289/3B 38/HR 242/RBI 1,039/SB 75/BB 1,031/SO 923/BA .254/SA .408/OBP .352