Sal Bando, a standout third baseman and core member of the Oakland A's teams that won three straight World Series in the 1970s, has died at the age of 78. According to the family's statement, Bando passed away on Friday, Jan. 20 after "losing his battle with cancer that began over five years ago."
The A's on Saturday released the following statement:
"We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Athletics Hall of Famer Sal Bando. 'Captain Sal,' as he was affectionately known among the A's faithful, was a four-time All-Star and led the Club to three consecutive World Series titles. Our deepest condolences are with his family, friends, and fans."
The Milwaukee Brewers, for whom Bando spent the latter portion of his playing career and later served as general manager, also released a statement on his passing:
"We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sal Bando," said Brewers President - Business Operations Rick Schlesinger. "Sal impacted the organization proudly for many years as both a player and as an executive. His addition to the team in 1977 helped establish the first great era of Brewers baseball. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Sal's loved ones."
Bando, a native of a working-class Cleveland suburb, was a sixth-round choice by the A's out of Arizona State in the first MLB draft in 1965. He reached the majors for good the following year and became a standout member of the A's shortly after their move from Kansas City to Oakland.
In May 1969, Bando was named team captain, and his fielding, production at the plate, and steady leadership on an otherwise turbulent roster played a vital role in what would become an Oakland dynasty. Bando and the A's won the World Series in 1972, 1973, and 1974, and while in Oakland Bando made four All-Star teams and finished runner-up in the American League MVP balloting in 1971. After 11 seasons with the A's, Bando signed a free-agent contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he remained for the final five seasons of his playing career. In the end, Bando compiled 1,790 hits; 1,031 walks against 923 strikeouts; 242 home runs; an OPS+ of 119; and a WAR of 61.5. Bando received three votes for the Hall of Fame but fell off the ballot after only one year.
After his playing days, Bando served as a special assistant for the Brewers, and in late 1991 he ascended to the role of general manager for Milwaukee. In eight years as the Brewers' lead decision-maker, the team managed one winning season, which came in 1992.
Bando is survived by his three sons and Sandy, his wife of 54 years.