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Former All-Star third baseman Sal Bando dies at 78

Mr. Bando jumped on the heap of jubilant A's after they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers to win baseball's World Series, on Oct. 17, 1974, in Oakland.Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — Sal Bando, a three-time World Series champion with the Oakland Athletics and former Milwaukee Brewers executive, has died. He was 78.

According to a statement from his family, Mr. Bando died Friday night in Oconomowoc. The family said the former third baseman lost a battle with cancer that began over five years ago.

"Sandy, Sal’s wife of 54 years, and sons Sal Jr., Sonny and Stef, send their love to family, friends and fans who mourn the loss of a humble and faithful man,” the family said in the statement.

Mr. Bando hit .254 with 242 homers and 1,039 RBIs in 16 seasons with the Athletics and Brewers. The four-time All-Star, who also starred for Arizona State in college, won three straight titles with the A’s from 1972-74.

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Mr. Bando served as captain of the A’s, known almost as much for their rambunctious approach on and off the field as their winning ways.

“You don’t understand,” then Brewers owner Bud Selig said when he signed Mr. Bando as the franchise’s first premium free agent in 1976. “The heart and soul of the Oakland A’s is not Catfish Hunter, and it is not Reggie Jackson, and it is not Rollie Fingers. It’s Sal Bando.”

He spent his last five seasons with Milwaukee, playing on the franchise’s first winning team in 1978 and its first postseason team in 1981.

The Cleveland native joined the Brewers' front office after his playing career. He served as the team's sixth general manager from October 1991 to August 1999.

“It can never be overstated the role Sal had in Brewers’ history, both on and off the field,” Selig, who would become baseball commissioner after his time with the team, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “When he joined us as a player, that was a big day in our history. He helped us turn the corner and was everything we hoped for, and played an important role in helping develop our younger players such as Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, into stars. He was truly our captain.

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“More than a great player, he was a tremendous person, a really great man. And he really loved Milwaukee, choosing to stay here and raise his family, which meant so much to him.”