Bando was a power-hitting third baseman and co-captain of the raucous Oakland A’s dynasty that won five straight AL Western Division titles (1971-75) and three straight World Series (1972-74). He was the glue of the infield, although, characteristically for that team, he didn’t always show respect for management. In June 1974, after a disappointing loss, he observed that A’s manager Alvin Dark “couldn’t manage a meat market.” And although he was chosen for four All-Star teams, he never started, having the misfortune to play during Brooks Robinson‘s final years.
Bando managed to stick with colorful A’s owner Charlie Finley for 11 seasons, including the last two years the franchise was in Kansas City. In both 1969 and 1971, Bando hit two grand slams. In the seventh game of 1972 World Series, he knocked in a run with a double, then scored the eventual winning run on Gene Tenace‘s double in the sixth inning of a 3-2 A’s victory.
Bando’s best year came in 1973, when he led the league in doubles with 32 and hit a career-high .287 with 29 HR and 98 RBI. In the 1973 playoffs against Baltimore, he nearly hit three homers in the second game, a 6-3 Oakland win. In the third inning Al Bumbry made a spectacular leaping catch of Bando’s first long drive. Following Game Two of the 1973 Series, he prompted the black armbands the players wore to show their feelings over the Mike Andrews incident, when Finley roasted the unfortunate second baseman’s two-error performance. In the 1974 playoffs against Baltimore, Bando hit two homers. His solo homer off Jim Palmer in Game Three provided the game’s only run, and in the fourth and final game Bando scored the eventual winning run on Reggie Jackson‘s seventh-inning double, the only hit for Oakland that afternoon.
Bando escaped Finley in 1977 when he signed with the Brewers as a free agent, and stayed around long enough to see his younger brother, Chris, reach the majors in 1981 with Cleveland.