Sal Bando, the third baseman in Oakland when the A’s won three consecutive World Series title, was the general manager in Milwaukee when he hired a young catcher whose career as a player was over to scout.
The scout’s name was Bob Melvin, the man at the helm of the A’s now.
“As a general manager you are always looking for quality baseball people,’’ Bando said in looking back to that 1996 hiring. “He was definitely that. It was to our advantage to bring someone like that aboard.
“The only credit I should get is at least I opened the door for him. Everything else he’s done on his own. He’s a quality guy who knows baseball and who knows people.’’
Melvin has kept his close personal ties with Bando over the years, and professional ones, too. Melvin wears the No. 6 because it was Bando’s number.
“Sal has been an important guy for me, not only professionally but personally too,’’ Melvin said. “He gave me my first job as a non-player. To be able to work for a guy like that was special.’’
Melvin went from being a scout in 1996 to being a roving minor league instructor in 1997 to being a special assistant to Bando in the GM’s office in 1998. He then became manager Phil Garner’s bench coach in Milwaukee in 1999, and his career path was set.
“He really showed me the whole gamut as far as baseball operations goes from scouting to player development to special assistant,’’ Melvin said. “I was able to be Phil Garner’s bench coach in Milwaukee. So he’s been a very important guy for me and for A’s history as well.’’
Bando, known as Cap’n Sal during his playing days, spent 11 years in Oakland, hitting 192 homers with a .255 average and 796 RBIs. He finished up with five years in Milwaukee as a player, then moving into the organization, ultimately rising to be the general manager.
And he prides his hiring of Melvin as one of the bright spots.
“Obviously I have high regard for him,’’ Bando said of Melvin. “I saw a confident person, a knowledgeable person who wasn’t overbearing with his thoughts and ideas. I felt he would fit in perfect no matter what job he had. He did everything for us because he had that ability.’’
The 1974 team will be introduced before Saturday’s game with much of the lineup coming back for the reunion, including Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Gene Tenace, Joe Rudi, Bert Campaneris, Rollie Fingers, Billy North, John “Blue Moon’’ Odom, Dick Green, Ray Fosse, Darold Knowles, Dave Hamilton, Larry Haney, Jim Holt, Ted Kubiak and Herb Washington.