Graceful Glider

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Ed Charles

Ed Charles was a graceful, even acrobatic, third baseman who hit with some sting in his bat. Charles paid his dues with nine years in the minor leagues, and for his effort was rewarded with a major league career that was spent mostly with two of the worst teams of the 1960s, only to be rescued at the end of his career by a “miracle.” Continue reading

Theft Control

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Joe Azcue

In a major league career that spanned the 1960s, Joe Azcue was known as a dependable catcher with a strong, accurate throwing arm. He led American League catchers in fielding percentage in 1967 and 1968. Over his 11-year career, he threw out more than 45 percent of base runners attempting to steal, and in 1966 he threw out 62 percent.

And, on occasion, he could hit.

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Base runners, beware! Over his career, Joe Azcue threw out 45 percent of runners trying to steal off him. In 1966, he threw out 62 percent of base runners attempting to steal.

A Cuban native, Azcue was signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1956 and appeared in 14 games with the Reds at the end of the 1960 season, hitting .097. He was purchased by the Milwaukee Braves and returned to the minors for the 1961 season, and in December of 1961 was traded with Ed Charles and Manny Jimenez to the Kansas City Athletics for Lou Klimchock and Bob Shaw. He hit .229 as the Athletics’ backup catcher, and at the beginning of the 1963 season was traded with shortstop Dick Howser to the Cleveland Indians for catcher Doc Edwards.

Azcue had his best seasons, as a hitter and defensively, with the Indians. He hit .284 with the Tribe in 1963 with career highs in home runs (14) and RBIs (46). He hit .273 in 1964 and .230 in 1965, and then bounced back to hit .275 in 1966 and .280 in 1968.

In April of 1969, Azcue was part of a blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox. Cleveland sent Azcue, Vicente Romo and Sonny Siebert to Boston for Ken Harrelson, Dick Ellsworth and Juan Pizarro. Azcue appeared in only 19 games for the Red Sox, hitting .216, before being traded to the California Angels for Tom Satriano. He finished the 1969 season with a combined .223 batting average, and then hit .242 for California in 1970, his last full season in the majors. Azcue sat out the 1971 season, and then played a total of 14 games for the Angels and the Milwaukee Brewers in 1972 before retiring.

In 11 big league seasons, Azcue collected 712 hits for a .252 career batting average.

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Glancing Back, and Remembering Sal Bando

Sal Bando was a solid all-around ballplayer and one of the best American League third basemen of the 1970s. He was an integral part of the competitive resurrection of the Athletics’ franchise in the late 1960s and that team’s three-peat dominance in the early 1970s.

Sal Bando's best season with the A's came in 1969, when he batted .281 with 31 home runs and 113 RBIs.

Sal Bando’s best season with the A’s came in 1969, when he batted .281 with 31 home runs and 113 RBIs.

Bando was drafted by the Kansas City Athletics in the sixth round of the 1965 amateur draft. He made his token debut with the club at the end of the 1966 season, and made the KC roster to stay in the second half of 1967. By 1968, the Athletics were in Oakland, and Bando was entrenched at the hot corner, replacing long-time A’s third baseman Ed Charles. In his first full season with the A’s, Bando batted .251 with nine home runs and 67 RBIs.

Bando’s breakout season came in 1969. He batted .281 with 31 home runs and 113 RBIs. He was named to the American League All-Star team that season, and finished sixteenth in the MVP voting.

From 1970 through 1976, Bando peaked as the A’s did. He averaged 22 home runs and 87 RBIs during those seasons, with his best offensive performance coming in 1973, when he hit .287 with 29 home runs and 98 RBIs, leading the league with 32 doubles and 295 total bases. He was named to the American League All-Star team three times during that period, and three times finished in the top five for the MVP balloting.

After 11 years with the Athletics, Bando signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1976. He played for five years in Milwaukee, averaging 10 home runs and 49 RBIs per season. He retired after the 1981 season.