Ex-Brewers third baseman and GM Sal Bando dies at 78

Ex-Brewers third baseman and GM Sal Bando dies at 78

Sal Bando, who spent the ultimate 5 seasons of a adorned enjoying profession with the Milwaukee Brewers after which held the position of basic supervisor with the franchise for one more eight seasons, died Friday at age 78 in Oconomowoc. An announcement from his household stated Bando had been battling most cancers for 5 years.

The three-time World Sequence champion as a participant with the Oakland Athletics made 4 all-star groups throughout his enjoying days with the A’s and signed a five-year contract value $1.5 million with the Brewers after the 1976 season, the primary premier free-agency additions in Brewers historical past.

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“It might by no means be overstated the position Sal had in Brewers’ historical past, each on and off the sector,” stated former Brewers proprietor and baseball commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig. “I can’t emphasize that sufficient. When he joined us as a participant, that was a giant day in our historical past. He helped us flip the nook and was every part we hoped for, and performed an vital position in serving to develop our youthful gamers similar to Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, into stars. He was really our captain. 

“Greater than an amazing participant, he was an incredible particular person, a very nice man. And he actually liked Milwaukee, selecting to remain right here and lift his household, which meant a lot to him. Past all of that, Sue and I, and our whole household, cherished our friendship with Sal. He can be really missed. This can be a unhappy day.” 

The Brewers’ first free agent

The Brewers chosen the third baseman Bando within the now-defunct free-agency “draft” of 1976, placing them amongst a small group of groups with negotiating rights. Getting him to comply with a deal marked a brand new period for the membership.

“It has long-term significance, as a result of it proves we are able to signal free brokers, and that can be vital in future years,” Selig stated on the time.

The Brewers thought that they had an opportunity to signal Bando’s roommate in Oakland, catcher/first baseman Gene Tenace, however he finally selected San Diego. Nonetheless, the Brewers improved marginally in 1977 after which went on a run of six straight successful seasons, beginning with a 93-win staff in 1978 that was the primary successful membership in Brewers historical past.

Bando performed in Milwaukee from 1977-81, posting his finest yr within the uniform with that 1978 staff when he batted .285 with 17 homers. He additionally performed 32 video games for the 1981 staff that turned the primary playoff qualifier in membership historical past, serving in a player-coach position for his closing two years.

Selig had bragged that when the Brewers signed the third baseman, he’d gotten robust suggestion from individuals with the A’s.

“You do not perceive,” Selig stated then. “The guts and soul of the Oakland A’s just isn’t Catfish Hunter, and it isn’t Reggie Jackson, and it isn’t Rollie Fingers. It is Sal Bando.”

From participant to entrance workplace instantly

Along with his enjoying profession full, Bando instantly turned a particular assistant to basic supervisor Harry Dalton, the architect of Milwaukee’s run of success from the late-Nineteen Seventies and thru the Eighties. However the Brewers hadn’t completed larger than third within the American League East for 9 years after the run to the 1982 World Sequence, and after a collection of free-agent signings for the 1991 season flopped, Selig turned to Bando, simply 47 years outdated, as the brand new president of baseball operations. Dalton stayed on as a senior vice chairman.

“I’d be lower than candid if I instructed you I used to be significantly thrilled about now not being the final supervisor of this staff, however I’m very, very happy about remaining with the staff,” Dalton stated on the time.

Bando’s first main little bit of enterprise was firing incumbent supervisor Tom Trebelhorn, and he led the search that finally landed Phil Garner as supervisor for the 1992 season. Bando’s solely successful season in his GM tenure was that first one, a memorable 1992 marketing campaign by which the membership received 92 video games and took second within the American League East behind World Sequence champion Toronto.

“He was a mild-mannered particular person, very even-keeled,” stated Garner, who first met Bando when the 2 have been teammates with the A’s in 1973. “Calm as a captain. However personally, he may very well be actual exhausting on himself. He’d get so offended when he’d strike out or not drive a run in. One explicit sport he’d struck out a couple of times after which bases have been loaded and he popped up, and he was livid. Within the outdated Oakland dugout there was a rest room proper the place the supervisor would stand.

“I used to be sitting close to the supervisor, which I sometimes did, and Sal got here storming off after he popped up together with his bat and his helmet and he threw his helmet down and took his bat within the rest room. Any person subsequent to me stated, ‘Uh oh, there’s on the point of be a variety of injury.’ We didn’t hear something for a minute and Sal got here out and was laughing and he stated he’d closed the door and swung the bat and couldn’t even hit the sink. Though he was a pleasing man to be round, he was an intense participant and an excellent participant. And that persona carried over to his general-managing stint, which matched my managing profession with Milwaukee.” 

Garner and Bando have been inextricably linked

Bando and Garner have been companions all through Bando’s GM tenure; when Garner was fired halfway by way of the 1999 season and changed on an interim foundation by hitting coach Jim Lefebvre, Bando resigned on the similar time.

“I used to be youthful than Sal and didn’t really feel like I used to be essentially in his social group, however I felt like there was a variety of mutual respect when he employed me,” Garner stated. “So I stated when he provided me the job in Milwaukee, ‘Sal, on the situation that when the time comes to fireplace me you simply say hey, it’s time. No explanations, and we go play golf and we keep the place we’re in our relationship.’ And he stated, ‘Whole lot.’ So when he known as me he felt dangerous about it and stated, ‘It’s time. And I’m firing myself, too.’ I stated, ‘Oh Sal, don’t do this.’ However he stated that’s what he needed to do. Once more, one other one among his terrific traits – I don’t suppose he needed me to take the autumn on my own, so he went together with it too.” 

Similar to his predecessor Dalton, Bando was reassigned inside the group, into the newly-created position of particular assistant to the membership president.

“When it comes to working with the person, he was nearly as good a boss as you may ever have,” Garner stated. “He was compassionate, he was aggressive and needed to win simply as a lot as anyone else. Within the eight years we have been collectively, he just one time ever made point out of one thing I ought to do. He by no means instructed me what to do on the sector. We talked about every part, we talked about lineups as you’d along with your basic supervisor. We talked about personnel. We talked about all types of issues. However he by no means stated, ‘Phil, do that,’ in all of the years we have been collectively besides one time.

“Greg Vaughn was one among our good younger gamers, and we didn’t have any energy on our staff. Greg was a budding younger energy hitter and I had him hitting fourth. We have been going by way of our struggles and we’d had a very powerful couple weeks. Greg was hitting fourth and was in a very powerful droop and so Sal after one among these video games comes all the way down to my workplace and I’m sitting behind the desk. He paces backwards and forwards for what appeared like 5 minutes, and I knew he needed to say one thing, and he hadn’t chewed me out in any respect within the final couple years. He’s steaming; you possibly can see it coming off his head. Lastly he stops in entrance of the desk and he places his finger within the air – he doesn’t level it at me – and he says, ‘I’m not going to inform you what to do. However I’ll inform you one factor. That fourth hitter you’ve obtained is killing you!’ After which he walked out the door. He made his level.” 

Garner stated in 1976, Bando wasn’t in a position to attend the all-star sport and advised that Garner take his place, which is what occurred.

“He was a terrific particular person,” Garner stated. “The Oakland A’s have been a rip-roaring, in-your-face, anything-goes type of a staff. Sal, because the captain of the staff, in some way held all of it collectively. As a rookie, I feel I earned his respect. In these days it was, ‘Don’t be heard from, simply be seen,’ however Sal included me in some issues.”

Paul Molitor’s departure

The deck was stacked towards Bando within the Nineties when salaries started skyrocketing and the small-market Brewers could not sustain till income sharing started in 1996. That will have performed a job when Bando stood on the forefront of one of the crucial doubtful choices in franchise historical past, not bringing franchise legend Paul Molitor again for the 1993 season.

The Brewers mind belief delayed contract negotiations after the 1992 season, then infamously requested Molitor to take a pay lower; as an alternative, the Toronto Blue Jays entered the fray with a three-year provide value $13 million. The Brewers provided him a shorter, cheaper deal.

“I did not perceive their strategy to that complete negotiation, and I suppose I did not perceive the economics of what they have been going by way of on the time,” Molitor stated later. “I simply thought that I did not have the help. I believed they tried to make me out because the dangerous man on the time, they usually have been making an attempt to guard their picture and do some injury management, too.”

At age 36, Molitor turned within the first of two straight all-star seasons with the Jays, completed second within the MVP voting and have become World Sequence MVP. Molitor and Robin Yount are the 2 gamers enshrined within the Baseball Corridor of Fame regarded primarily as Milwaukee Brewers.

“He took over in Milwaukee when free company was beginning to take off and we have been restricted within the sources that we may use, and as a small-market staff it was troublesome,” Garner stated. “In some circumstances you needed to spend your cash in a single spot; you couldn’t simply exit and do it just like the Yankees did or a variety of the opposite groups did since you couldn’t afford to make any errors. It made it type of troublesome. So he had a troublesome job as a basic supervisor in that point interval.” 

Bando, a local of Cleveland who performed faculty baseball at Arizona State, remained related to Milwaukee. Bando’s son, Sal Jr., was head coach for the Marquette Excessive Faculty baseball staff that grabbed back-to-back runner-up finishes within the WIAA summer time baseball state match in 2016 and 2017.

Bando was inducted into the Brewers Wall of Honor as a constitution member in 2014. He entered the Nationwide School Baseball Corridor of Fame in 2013 and the Athletics Corridor of Fame in 2022.

“He by no means made you are feeling uncomfortable,” Garner stated. “He by no means made you are feeling inferior. He by no means made you are feeling that you simply weren’t his equal. He by no means talked all the way down to anyone. I at all times thought that he thought outdoors the field slightly bit. I believed he was a superb drawback solver. He was a man that might see the massive image and attempt to provide you with options. Typically you get caught and may’t see the forest by way of the timber. Sal was at all times a man that might see the forest fairly good. I had a substantial amount of admiration for his talent to try this.” 

Todd Rosiak contributed to this story. JR Radcliffe will be reached at (262) 361-9141 or jradcliffe@gannett.com. Observe him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.

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