Tag Archives: Sal Bando

A’s come out of the gate looking like Glass Joe, now look like a second level Piston Honda

The Mike Tyson’s Punchout cheat code is: 007 373 5963

You know, I haven’t been giving this humble blog much time or attention lately, so I suppose it’s time to “dip into the ‘ol inkwell” and throw my two cents into the misty ether of right-wing conspiracies, porn, self-help, self-righteousness, quasi-mysticism and shit talking.

This baseball season, so far, can be summed up by using the opposite theater masks of tragedy and comedy, and this Oakland ball-club has all but bathed in the bubble bath of the above. After causing a mini-panic, collective brain-implosion and a negative knee-jerk reaction after starting out 0-6, the team collected themselves and went on a tidy 13 game winning streak–all but erasing the memory of their earlier incompetence and once again garnering the veneration of people with nothing better to do than to root for strangers wearing pajamas and Oakley Blades on a daily basis.

There was also a plethora of injuries, most notably a guy smashing his pinky finger against a desk (Jesus Lizard) because he was sucking at video games, (for more idiotic baseball injuries see John Smoltz and Glenallen Hill) and another taking a ricochet off a BP pitching cage and getting a shiner in an absolute “someone up there really hates me” freak of nature accident. (…and in a deliciously tasty form of irony, yours truly once took an angry Nintendo controller ricochet off the eye socket, giving both injuries a swirling, yin and yang home in my world of lunacy)

Yesterday, Mark Canha was drilled in the elbow with a wayward toss by a Baltimore hurler breaking legend Captain Sal Bando’s HBP record and, ever the comedian, doffed his cap to the crowd. I am absolutely thrilled that this guy has worked his ass off to turn himself into one of the best lead-off hitters in the game, and it’s hard to surmise that he was acquired from the Colorado “baseball team” for the baseball trade equivalent of a ham sandwich. 

The crescendo of BS before you is slowly coming to an end, (we’re all busy, aren’t we?) and I’ll leave you on this particular thought–watching Elvis Andrus play baseball is like the equivalent of rubber-necking a repulsively bloody and twisted metal-strewn car accident on the freeway. You know you shouldn’t look, but you can’t pull your eyes away because you want to see how bad it gets. An absolute shit show that makes me wonder how the yokels in Texas ever put up with the guy. Mr. Blue Hawaii was the mental goof protagonist on the one and only time I EVER saw a runner tag and score from 3rd on an infield pop. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you would pencil that in on your scorecard as a “SAC P6.”

Blasphemy.

Joe DiMaggio wears the Kelly Green and Gold.

joe d as manager

Joe D. on the far right.

When Charles Finley brought the A’s to Oakland, he hired Joe DiMaggio as Executive Vice President, coach, and public relations man. Apparently Joe set down some firm ground rules before coming on board with Finley. Specifically, he refused to work the base lines; reserved the right to decline invitations to banquets, supermarket openings and other functions he did not wish to attend; and wanted most of his goodwill time to be spent at the park so his free time would be left open. DiMaggio parted on good terms, explaining he wanted more time to golf and fish.

Many people downplay DiMaggios’ role as more of typical Finley antics, a claim which no doubt is partly true. However, as one would imagine, a presence such as DiMaggios’ does not go unnoticed. It was DiMaggio who taught Joe Rudi to turn his back on a fly ball, resulting in one of the most famous defensive plays in World Series history.

DiMaggio worked an hour every day with the young Reggie Jackson, teaching him how to make contact. To quote DiMaggio; “Reggie is still green as grass, we’ve just got to bring his talents to the surface. They’re all there, no question.”

In 1967 a young Sal Bando changed his batting crouch which resulted in a .192 batting average in 47 games, an injury and a demotion to single-A Vancouver. Joe D. provided the tip which pulled the future star out of his struggles. “I was getting jammed on everything, then Joe D. told me to close up my stance” said Captain Sal who anchored the championship A’s at third base from 1968 to 1976.

DiMaggio witnessed one of the proudest moments in Oakland Athletics history. After Catfish Hunter threw his famous perfect game, May 8, 1968, DiMaggio was asked about the performance. “Just two words,” he said, “A masterpiece.” Joe also experienced the early days of the color uniforms which were uncommon in baseball at the time. Add to this the colors, Kelly Green and California Gold, and one can understand why DiMaggio took some ribbing from fans.

Few people, however, remember the most famous move which DiMaggio made while with the A’s.

Before the start of the 1968 season, while things were tumultuous in preparation for the A’s first season in Oakland, DiMaggio was wandering around the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum checking out the new facility and views it had to offer when he noticed that the view of home plate was obscured from view in portions of the upper deck. Oakland officials fixed the problem by moving the infield further out from the backstop; a move which resulted in the largest foul territory in the Major Leagues, and which pleases pitchers and frustrates hitters to this day.

The origins of the “Mustache Gang.”

mustache gang

Rollie Fingers has the most famous mustache in baseball history…although he wasn’t the trend setter.

The following is an excerpt from Bruce Markusen’s amazing and vital book, “A baseball Dynasty: Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s. 

Reggie Jackson reported to spring training in 1972 replete with a fully grown mustache, the origins of which had begun to sprout during the 1971 American League Championship Series. To the surprise of his teammates, Jackson had used part of his off-season to allow the mustache reach a fuller bloom. In addition, Jackson bragged to teammates that he would not only wear the mustache, possibly a full beard, come Opening Day.

wally schang

Wally Schang in 1914

Such pronouncements would have hardly created a ripple in later years, when players would freely make bold fashion statements with mustaches and goatees, and routinely wear previously disdained accessories like earrings. But this was 1972, still a conservative time within the sport, in stark contrast to the rebellious attitudes of younger generations throughout the country.  Given that no major league player had been documented wearing a mustache in the regular season since Wally Schang of the Philadelphia A’s in 1914, Jackson’s pronouncements made major news in 1972.

In the post Schang era, several players had donned mustaches during spring training, yet, in each case the player had shaved off the mustache by Opening Day, either by his own volition or because of a mandate from the team. After all, there existed an unwritten rule within the conservative sport, one that strongly frowned upon facial hair. In addition, several teams had more recently instituted their own formal policies (most notably the Cincinnati Reds in the 1960’s), policies that forbade their players from sporting facial hair.

Baseball’s conservative grooming standards , which had been in place for over 50 years, were now being threatened by one of the game’s most visible players. Not surprisingly, Jackson’s mustachioed look quickly garnered the attention of owner Charlie O. Finley and manager Dick Williams. “The story as I remember it,” says outfielder Mike Hegan, “was that Reggie came into spring training…with a mustache, and Charlie didn’t like it. So he told Dick to tell Reggie to shave it off. And Dick told Reggie to shave it off, and Reggie told Dick what to do. This got to be a real sticking point, and so I guess Charlie and Dick had a meeting and they said ‘well, Reggie’s an individual so maybe we can try some reverse psychology here.’ Charlie told a few other guys to start growing a mustache. Then (Finley figured that if) a couple of other guys did it, Reggie would shave his off, and you know, everything would be OK.

reggie_charlie_0_as

Reggie and Charlie O.

According to Sal Bando, Finley wanted to avoid having a direct confrontation with Jackson over the mustache. For one of the few times in his tenure as the A’s owner, Finley showed a preference for a subtle, more indirect approach. “Finley, to my knowledge,”says Bando, “did not want to go tell Reggie to shave it. So he thought it would be better to have us all grow mustaches. That way Reggie wouldn’t be an ‘individual’ anymore.”

Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, Darold Knowles and Bob Locker followed Reggie’s lead, each sprouting their own mustache. Instead of making Jackson feel less individualistic, thus prompting him to adopt his previously clean-shaven look, the strategy had a reverse and unexpected affect on Charles Finley.

“Well, as it turned out, guys started growin’ ’em, and Charlie began to like it,” says Mike Hegan in recalling the origins of baseball’s “Mustache Gang.” Finley offered a cash incentive to any player who had successfully grown a mustache by Father’s Day. “So then we all had to grow mustaches,” says Hegan, “and that’s how all that started.” By the time we got to the (regular) season, almost everybody had mustaches.” Even the manager, Dick Williams, known for his military brush-cut and clan shaven look during his days in Boston, would join the facial brigade by growing a patchy, scraggly mustache of his own. Baseball’s long standing hairless trend had officially come to an end.