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Elephant Rumblings: A’s legend Sal Bando dies at 78

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Oakalnd Athletics v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Herb Scharfman/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

It’s Monday, Athletics Nation.

The Athletics community lost a titan of A’s lore on Friday. “Cap’n” Sal Bando, the leader of the dynastic A’s of the early seventies, lost his long battle with cancer according to the Bando family.

The A’s tweeted this statement on Saturday:

Bando began his major league career in 1966 with the Kansas City A’s and became the team’s regular third baseman as well as team captain after the franchise moved to Oakland in 1968. He led the team through its most successful period in Oakland to date, in which the A’s won five division titles and three World Series championships from 1971 through 1975.

The “Swingin’ A’s” of that era were a colorful bunch, with high profile superstars like Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter. Bando didn’t command the spotlight the way some teammates did; instead, he provided quiet and steady leadership both on and off the field.

The four-time All-Star never won an AL MVP award, but he placed in the top four among voters three times during his heyday with the A’s. Bando was inducted to the Athletics Hall of Fame last August; I noted when his induction was announced that he led all of baseball in WAR from 1969 through 1973.

Bando was part of the great free agent exodus that broke up the A’s dynasty. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers after the 1976 season and played the last five seasons of his 16-year long MLB career with the Brew Crew. After retirement, Bando worked with the Brewers front office and eventually became the team’s general manager. The Brewers also remembered Bando via Twitter on Saturday:

In recalling Bando’s legacy, Matt Kawahara at the San Francisco Chronicle quoted several former teammates and colleagues who testified to Bando’s impact on their lives and careers. Vida Blue remarked that Bando “was like a quiet leader and I think those are the best kind of leaders.” Bob Melvin, who began his post-playing career with the Brewers in 1991 under Bando’s watch, said that Sal was among the most influential people in his career.

Fellow Athletics Hall of Famer Dave Stewart, who pitched for the great A’s team of the late eighties and early nineties, remembered Bando thusly:

Former teammate Joe Rudi said, “He was the rock of our club.”

‘Nuff said. Rest in peace, Cap’n Sal.

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