Jump on the Bando Wagon

 

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.

Best Day of the Weak

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Rick Monday

Coming up with the American League’s perennial also-rans in Kansas City, Rick Monday quickly established himself as one of the best players in the Athletics’ line-up and one of the best all-around players in the league.

As a rookie with the Kansas City Athletics in 1967, Rick Monday batted .251 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs.

As a rookie with the Kansas City Athletics in 1967, Rick Monday batted .251 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs.

A native of Arkansas, Monday starred for the Arizona State Sun Devils, leading the team to the 1965 NCAA championship (while playing with future teammate and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson). Monday was the first overall selection in the inaugural Major League First-Year Player Draft in 1965, taken by the Kansas City Athletics. He appeared in 17 games for the A’s at the end of the 1966 season, and then batted .251 with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs in his 1967 rookie campaign.

Monday was an All-Star in 1968, when he hit .274 for the now Oakland Athletics. He batted .271 in 1969, .290 in 1970 and slipped to .245 in 1971. In November of 1971, the A’s dealt Monday to the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Ken Holtzman, and Monday was to become a mainstay in the Cubs’ outfield for the next five seasons, hitting a combined .270. His best season in Chicago was 1976, when he hit .272 and had career bests in home runs (32) and RBIs (77).

In 1977 Monday was traded with Mike Garman to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Jeff Albert (minors), Bill Buckner and Ivan De Jesus. He spent his last eight major league seasons with the Dodgers, hitting a combined .254 and providing the team’s best center field play since the departure of Willie Davis.

Rick Monday’s best season came with the Chicago Cubs in 1976. He hit 32 home runs, drove in 77 runs and scored 107 runs – all career highs.

Rick Monday’s best season came with the Chicago Cubs in 1976. He hit 32 home runs, drove in 77 runs and scored 107 runs – all career highs.

After so many years of consistently performing well for second-division teams, Monday finally tasted World Series success as a member of the Dodgers in 1981. He was primarily a utility player when he hit the deciding home run in the National League Championship Series. Monday drilled a two-out, ninth-inning homer that proved to be the difference in a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Expos, a victory that elevated the Dodgers to the World Series where they dispatched the New York Yankees in six games.

Monday lasted for 19 big league seasons, hitting a combined .264 with 1,619 hits over his career. He was twice an All-Star, once in each league.

Double-Digit Productivity

 

Lights Out: Reggie Jackson Drives in 10 Runs

When: June 14, 1969

Where: Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts

Game Time: 3:23

Attendance: 22,395

 

For one inning, it was a contest. After that, it became a showcase for the Oakland Athletics’ bats, which on that day were as productive as they were merciless against Boston Red Sox pitching.

Reggie Jackson mauled Boston Red Sox pitching for five hits – including two home runs – and 10 RBIs. He raised his season batting average by 20 points in this one game.

Reggie Jackson mauled Boston Red Sox pitching for five hits – including two home runs – and 10 RBIs. He raised his season batting average by 20 points in this one game.

Mostly, the game became an RBI showcase for a 23-year-old A’s outfielder with All-Star aspirations … and a Hall of Fame future.

Reggie Jackson came into the game batting .246 with 20 home runs and 35 runs batted in. By the end of the game, Jackson had raised his batting average by 20 points to .266. He had five hits in six at-bats, including two home runs and a double. He also walked once and scored two runs.

He single-handedly destroyed Red Sox pitching that day, and tattooed the craggy dimensions of Fenway Park, all on a day when his incredible output meant almost nothing in terms of the game’s outcome.

Jackson came to bat in the top of the first inning with one out and Bert Campaneris at second base. Jackson hit a ground-rule double for his first RBI of the day. Carl Yastrzemski tied the game in the bottom of the first with a solo home run, but a Dick Green RBI single in the second inning put the A’s back on top. Jackson hit a two-run homer in the third inning, hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning, and then struck out with the bases loaded to end the sixth inning. It was Jackson’s only out of the day.

Reggie Jackson finished the 1969 season with 47 home runs and 118 RBIs. He led the American League that season with 123 runs scored and a .608 slugging average.

Reggie Jackson finished the 1969 season with 47 home runs and 118 RBIs. He led the American League that season with 123 runs scored and a .608 slugging average.

He singled in two runs in the seventh, and then came to back in the eighth with the bases loaded. This time he launched a fly ball that cleared the wall in center field, ending the day with five hits – three for extra bases – and 10 RBIs. The Athletics really didn’t need Jackson’s production, as the team won 21-7. Jackson’s 10 RBIs didn’t account for half of his team’s runs.

The beneficiary of this firepower was John “Blue Moon” Odom, who won his eighth game of the season.

The 1969 season would be Reggie Jackson’s “breakout” year and his career season in most offensive categories. He finished the 1969 season batting .275 with what would be career-bests in home runs (47) and RBIs (118). He would lead the American League in runs scored with 123, and with a .608 slugging percentage.

 

Type-A’s Slugger

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Reggie Jackson

While the bulk of his Hall of Fame career could be found in the 1970s and early 1980s, Reggie Jackson’s best single offensive season came in 1969, when his outstanding numbers for the Oakland Athletics catapulted him among major league baseball’s dominant sluggers … a status he would maintain for nearly two decades.

Reggie Jackson's best season in the major leagues came in 1969, when he blasted 47 home runs and drove in 118 runs. He led the major leagues in runs scored (123) and led the American League in slugging percentage (.608).

Reggie Jackson’s best season in the major leagues came in 1969, when he blasted 47 home runs and drove in 118 runs. He led the major leagues in runs scored (123) and led the American League in slugging percentage (.608).

The Kansas City Athletics selected Jackson in the 1966 major league baseball draft with the second overall pick. He spent only two years in the A’s minor league system. In his rookie year of 1968 (with the Athletics now in Oakland), Jackson hit .250 with 29 home runs (fourth in the American League) and 74 RBIs (eighth best in the league). He also led the league in strikeouts, something he would do four more times in his career.

In 1969, Jackson’s home run (47) and RBI (118) totals would be career bests. He led the major leagues in runs scored (123) and led the American League in slugging percentage (.608). He finished fifth in the balloting for Most Valuable Player (he would win the MVP award in 1973). He also made his first All-Star appearance (of 14 in his career).

After tours with the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and California Angels, Jackson returned to Oakland for his final season in 1987. He finished his career with 563 home runs and 1,702 RBIs.

Jackson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

Casting for Cooperstown

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Catfish Hunter

Jim “Catfish” Hunter’s best years – the one that put him into the Baseball Hall of Fame – came in the 1970s, when he was the pitching ace of World Series championship teams with the Oakland A’s and New York Yankees.

Catfish Hunter pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins in 1968 at age 22. He was 13-13 with a 3.35 ERA for the A’s that season.

Catfish Hunter pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins in 1968 at age 22. He was 13-13 with a 3.35 ERA for the A’s that season.

The 1960s were Hunter’s “formative” years as a member of the Kansas City Athletics staff. Those A’s teams were far from championship caliber, and Hunter’s won-lost record reflected the abilities of those teams. But Hunter’s performance in the 1960s consistently hinted at the greatness that would be revealed a decade later. Early in his career, he was always competitive, regardless of the team behind him, and was even, on one occasion, perfect.

Hunter was signed by the Athletics in 1964 and made his major league debut, at age 19, in 1965. He never pitched in the minors.

Hunter was 8-8 in his rookie season, pitching 133 innings in 20 starts (with two shutouts). His starts and innings pitched rose steadily from there. In 1966 he made 25 starts and pitched 176.2 innings, compiling a 9-11 record with a 4.02 earned run average. By 1967, at age 21, Hunter had emerged as the ace of the A’s staff, pitching 259.2 innings in 35 starts, and compiling a 13-17 record with a 2.81 ERA and five shutouts.

In 1968, the team moved to Oakland, and over the next two seasons Hunter went 25-28 with a combined ERA of 3.35. He averaged 240 innings per season. On May 8, 1968, Hunter pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins, the ninth perfect game in American League history.

Catfish  Hunter won 224 games over a 15-year major league career. He won 25 games and the American League <a rel=

Catfish Hunter won 224 games over a 15-year major league career. He won 25 games and the American League Cy Young award in 1974.

From 1965 through 1969, pitching in Kansas City and Oakland, Hunter’s combined record was 55-64 with a 3.44 ERA … hardly Hall of Fame numbers, but those were to come. He won 18 games for Oakland in 1970, and was a 21-game winner in each of the next three seasons. In 1974, he led the American League in victories (25) and ERA (2.49) on his way to claiming the Cy Young Award. It was his last season in Oakland. Signed as a free agent, Hunter won 23 games for the Yankees in 1975, and was 63-53 in his five seasons in New York.

Hunter retired in 1979 after 15 big league seasons and 3,449.1 innings. An eight-time All-Star, he compiled a 224-166 record with a 3.26 ERA. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987.

 

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Pinstripe Heat

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Al Downing

When he first came to the big leagues, Al Downing lived and died on the heat of his often-unhittable fastball. And like so many pitchers who experience the inevitable decline in velocity that comes with age, Downing learned to evolve from thrower to pitcher.

But while he was a New York Yankee, what a thrower he was.

As a rookie in 1963, Al Downing averaged 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest strikeout ratio in the league.

As a rookie in 1963, Al Downing averaged 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest strikeout ratio in the league.

A New Jersey native, Downing was signed by the Yankees in 1961 off the campus of Rider University. By 1963, he had worked his way into the Yankees’ starting rotation, an important addition to an already formidable pitching staff. In his rookie season, Downing went 13-5 with a 2.56 ERA. On a Yankees staff that featured Whitey Ford (24-7), Jim Bouton (21-7) and Ralph Terry (17-15), Downing finished second on the staff in shutouts (four) and strikeouts (171), while leading the team (and the league)  in strikeouts per nine innings (8.8). He was the starter (and loser) in Game Two of the 1963 World Series, as the Yankees were shut out by Johnny Podres and the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0. (The Dodgers took the 1963 World Series in four games.)

Downing won 13 games in 1964, while leading the American League in strikeouts (217) and walks (120).  As the Yankees’ fortunes tumbled, so did Downing’s won-lost record: to 12-14 in 1965 and 10-11 in 1966. He rebounded to a 14-10 record in 1966 with a 2.63 ERA, 10 complete games and four shutouts. But pitching 200-plus innings per season took its toll on Downing the flame-thrower, and he was limited to a combined record of 10-8 over the next two seasons.

Following the 1968 season, Downing was traded by the Yankees with Frank Fernandez to the Oakland Athletics for Danny Cater and Ossie Chavarria. His stay in Oakland lasted only two months, and he was traded again, this time with Tito Francona, to the Milwaukee Brewers for Steve Hovley. His combined record for both teams was 5-13 with a 3.52 ERA. The Brewers traded Downing to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Andy Kosco.

With the Dodgers, Downing had the best season of his career in 1971. He went 20-9 with a 2.68 ERA. He pitched 12 complete games with five shutouts, the most in the National League. He tied with Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver for second in wins (Fergie Jenkins won 24 for the Cubs). And he finished third in the Cy Young voting (behind Jenkins and Seaver). He was named Comeback Player of the Year for the National League.

Downing pitched six more seasons for the Dodgers, compiling a 26-28 record over that period. He retired during the 1977 season with a career record of 123-107.

 

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Who’s the Bos?

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Dick Bosman

Dick Bosman was a solid starting pitcher who occasionally showed flashes of brilliance. Not overpowering, he relied on consistent control and a herky-jerky pitching motion to make his pitches difficult to “pick up” by opposing batters.

Dick Bosman was 14-5 for the Washington Senators in 1969, leading the American League with a 2.19 ERA.

Dick Bosman was 14-5 for the Washington Senators in 1969, leading the American League with a 2.19 ERA.

During his 11-year playing career (followed by many years as a major and minor league pitching coach), Bosman pitched a one-hitter and a no-hitter that was nearly perfect … and he had no one to blame for missing out on that perfect game but himself.

Bosman was signed in 1963 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He pitched in the farm systems for both the Pirates and the San Francisco Giants until he was selected by the Washington Senators in the 1964 minor league draft. After three brief stays with the Senators, Bosman made the big league club for keeps in 1968, appearing in 46 games (all but 10 as a reliever) and compiling a 2-9 record with a 3.69 ERA.

In 1969 Bosman moved into the Senators’ starting rotation and responded by winning 14 games and leading the American League with a 2.19 ERA. He followed that performance with two “mirror” seasons, going 16-12 in 1970 (including a one-hit, 1-0 shutout of the Minnesota Twins) and 12-16 in 1971. He slipped to 8-10 in 1972 and was traded to the Cleveland Indians during the 1973 season, which produced a combined record of 3-13.

As a member of the Cleveland Indians in 1974, Dick Bosman pitched a no-hitter against the Oakland Athletics.

As a member of the Cleveland Indians in 1974, Dick Bosman pitched a no-hitter against the Oakland Athletics.

Bosman went 7-5 for the Indians in 1974, including a no-hit victory against the Oakland Athletics. His throwing error allowed the A’s their only base runner during the game and deprived him of the distinction of a perfect game, making Bosman the only pitcher in major league history to miss a perfect game due to his own fielding error.

Two months into the 1975 season, the Indians traded Bosman and Jim Perry to the A’s for Blue Moon Odom. Bosman pitched well for the pennant-winning A’s, the only contender he would ever play for. He went 11-4 with a 3.52 for Oakland, including a 3-1 record in September. He pitched one more season for Oakland and retired with an 82-85 record and a 3.67 career ERA.

 

 

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Hits and Smiles

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Manny Sanguillen

Manny Sanguillen was not only one of the best catchers of his era, but also projected a personality that made him easy to like. He was a good catcher and outstanding hitter, one of the best “bad ball” hitters ever. And while his best seasons came in the 1970s, his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates began in the 1960s, and early on he showed what kind of impact player he would become.

Manny Sanguillen was a slashing, line drive hitter whose strike zone included any pitch he could reach. From 1969-1976, Sanguillen hit for a combined .303 average.

Manny Sanguillen was a slashing, line drive hitter whose strike zone included any pitch he could reach. From 1969-1976, Sanguillen hit for a combined .303 average.

Sanguillen was signed by the Pirates in 1964 and made his major league debut in 1967. He made the Pirates’ roster for keeps in 1969, hitting .324 as a rookie. The next season Sanguillen hit .319, third best in the National League behind Rico Carty and Joe Torre. From 1969 through 1976, Sanguillen hit for a combined .303, with a career-best .328 in 1975.

Sanguillen was a line drive hitter who rarely walked, and rarely struck out. He never hit more than 12 home runs in a season, and had his best RBI total in 1971 with 81 runs batted in. But the powerful Pittsburgh lineup of the 1970s didn’t need home runs or RBIs from their catcher. They needed Sanguillen’s solid play behind the plate, his durability, and his consistency with the bat. Sanguillen delivered all of that.

In 1976 his batting average “slipped” to .290, and Sanguillen was traded to the Oakland Athletics for manager Chuck Tanner. He spent one season in Oakland, hitting .275, and was traded back to Pittsburgh where he spent the next three seasons as a part-time player. After the 1980 season he was traded with Bert Blyleven to the Cleveland Indians for Gary Alexander, Victor Cruz, Bob Owchinko and Rafael Vasquez. But Sanguillen never played for the Indians. He was released before the 1981 season and retired after 13 major league seasons.

A three-time All-Star, Sanguillen batted .282 in the post-season including a .379 average during the Pittsburgh Pirates’ triumphant 1971 World Series.

A three-time All-Star, Sanguillen batted .282 in the post-season including a .379 average during the Pittsburgh Pirates’ triumphant 1971 World Series.

Sanguillen collected 1500 hits with a career batting average of .296. He was an All-Star three times. In the post-season, Sanguillen hit .282 in 29 games, including a .379 average during the 1971 World Series.

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Man of Many Positions

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bert Campaneris

The Kansas City (and later, Oakland) Athletics had few bright spots during the 1960s. Six times during that decade, the A’s lost at least 90 games, and three times lost more than 100. Prior to the introduction of divisional play in 1969, the Athletics’ best finish was sixth in 1968, the first time in the 1960s that the A’s finished above .500.

In 1965, Bert Campaneris became the first major league player to play all nine field positions in a single game.

In 1965, Bert Campaneris became the first major league player to play all nine field positions in a single game.

The only real bright spot for the franchise during the 1960s was the acquisition and development of a stable of young, talented players who would jell at the end of the 1960s and spur the Oakland Athletics’ championship years in the early 1970s. One of the first of those foundation players was a fleet Cuban native named Dagoberto Campaneris.

“Bert” Campaneris came up with the A’s as their shortstop in 1964, hitting a home run in his first at-bat and two homers in his first game. As an indication of things to come, that performance was misleading, as Campaneris’ primary offensive weapon was speed, not power. Starting in 1965, Campaneris led the league in stolen bases in each of his first four seasons and in six out of his first eight years with the A’s. When Campaneris led the American League with 51 stolen bases in 1965, he ended Luis Aparicio’s nine-year reign as AL base-stealing champ (1956-1964).

Campaneris led the league in triples in 1965 (12) and in hits in 1968 (177). During the 1960s, he batted a combined .264 with 292 stolen bases.

Starting in 1965, Bert Campaneris led the American League in stolen bases in each of his first four seasons.

Starting in 1965, Bert Campaneris led the American League in stolen bases in each of his first four seasons.

Campaneris was the A’s shortstop and lead-off for a dozen years. However, he was talented enough to play every position and, on September 8, 1965, Campaneris did just that. In a night game against the California Angels, he became the first major league player to field every position, giving up one run in the inning he pitched in a 5-3 loss. (Campaneris did not figure in the decision). His only error in that nine-position game occurred in right field. He was error-free in six chances at other positions and, ironically, had no fielding chances during the inning he played his everyday position, shortstop.

A five-time All-Star, Campaneris is still the Athletics’ career leader in games (1,795), at-bats (7,180) and hits (1,882).

The Dodgers’ Hit Machine

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Tommy Davis

In many ways, Tommy Davis is remembered – if at all – as one of the most over-rated hitters of the 1960s. It’s not only unfortunate, but grossly unfair. Few players in baseball history can match the offensive numbers that Davis put up, on either an individual season or career basis.

Tommy  Davis was the National League batting champion in both 1962 and 1963. In 1962, he led the major leagues in batting average (.346), hits (230) and runs batted in (153). He finished third in the MVP sweepstakes behind teammate <a rel=

In fact, most of the players who can at least match Tommy’s hitting statistics have a place of honor in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

While Davis may not have the numbers to qualify for Cooperstown, his outstanding career was, in fact, tempered only by the extraordinary expectations he created with his own outstanding performance at the beginning of his career.

Davis was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956 and made his debut with the club as a pinch hitter in 1960. By 1961 Davis was a reserve player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, hitting .276 his rookie year. He became the Dodgers’ everyday left fielder in 1961, batting .278 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs.

Nothing prior to 1962 suggested the kind of hitting monster Davis was to become that season. He won the National League batting title with a .346 average and led the major leagues in hits (236) and RBIs (153). He also achieved what would be career highs in runs (120), doubles (27), home runs (27) and slugging percentage (.535).

A single-season fluke? Davis proved otherwise in 1963 when he claimed his second consecutive batting championship, hitting .326 with 16 home runs and 88 RBIs. Yet it seemed like a “down” season compared to his output in 1962. And in 1964 his offensive numbers slipped further, to 16 home runs, 86 RBIs and a .275 batting average.

His productivity came to a crushing halt in 1965 when an aggressive slide into second base resulted in a fractured ankle. While never known for basepath speed, the injury nevertheless hurt his career. Davis was never the same player after it.

He rebounded in 1966 to hit .313, but it would be his last season in Dodger blue. The Dodgers traded Davis and Darrell Griffith to the New York Mets for Ron Hunt and Jim Hickman. Davis extended his comeback by hitting .302 for a full season in New York, with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs. But he was traded again after the 1967 season, this time to the Chicago White Sox in a six-player deal that brought Tommie Agee and Al Weis to the Mets. Davis led the White Sox in hitting (.268), and was promptly drafted by the expansion Seattle Pilots, his fourth team in four years.

Tommy Davis lasted 18 years in the major leagues, playing for 10 different teams and compiling a .294 career batting average. He hit .300 or better six times.

Tommy Davis lasted 18 years in the major leagues, playing for 10 different teams and compiling a .294 career batting average. He hit .300 or better six times.

Davis hit .271 for the Pilots in 123 games before being traded to the Houston Astros. Less than a year later, Davis was purchased by the Oakland Athletics, and then sold to the Chicago Cubs two months after that.  In all, he played for 10 different teams from 1966 to 1976, his last year in the majors. His longest stop was with the Baltimore Orioles from 1972 through 1975.

Despite his travels, Davis never really stopped hitting until the end of his playing career. He batted .324 for the A’s in 1971 and .306 for the Orioles in 1973, when he drove in 89 runs for the O’s. Altogether, Davis played 18 seasons in the big leagues and tallied 2,121 hits for a .294 career average.

Heady numbers for an “under” achiever.

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