Bando Has Slick Advice for Iorg : Former Third Baseman Recalls His Stint on the Mound
Considering his inauspicious, though highly noticeable, major league pitching debut, pinch-hitter Dane Iorg of the San Diego Padres probably isn’t planning any more trips to the mound.
But should he someday decide to pitch again, he should keep the ball “slick.” At least, that’s how Sal Bando did it.
Bando, who spent 14 seasons in the major leagues with Oakland and Milwaukee, knows how Iorg must have felt Monday when Padre Manager Steve Boros ran out of pitchers and asked Iorg to pitch the eighth inning with the Padres trailing the San Francisco Giants, 14-1.
Iorg gave up two home runs--to pitcher Mike LaCoss and rookie infielder Mike Woodard, the first for each--and allowed four runs in one inning of work as the Giants routed the Padres, 18-1. Bando made his mound debut under similar circumstances, but with a little more success and a little help from a “moist” pitch.
"(Iorg) wasn’t as good a pitcher as I was,” Bando said facetiously from his home in suburban Milwaukee. “I didn’t give up any (home runs) in three innings.”
Playing third base for the Brewers on Aug. 29, 1979, against Kansas City, Bando watched the Royals shred three Brewer pitchers for 15 runs. And it was only the fourth inning.
“I had been telling (Manager George Bamberger) that I could pitch,” Bando said. "(Bamberger) came out of the dugout to make a change and I looked in the bullpen and I see no one warming up, so I knew it was my turn.
“The first batter I faced was Willie Wilson and he grounded one to first, (but) by the time I realized I had to cover the bag he was safe.”
Wilson was credited with a hit, and Frank White followed with a double, scoring Wilson. White later came around to score, making it 17-4.
But after that inning, Bando settled down. Or rather, he came up with a highly effective, if not illegal, pitch.
“The next two innings I came out and pitched low,” Bando said. “I kept the ball kind of slick so they couldn’t hit it.”
Bando wouldn’t say how he kept the ball slick, leaving that up to the imagination. But seeing Bando on the mound made some of his teammates want to pitch.
“As soon as I went to the mound, (catcher) Buck Martinez and (infielder) Jim Gantner both told him (Bamberger) they could pitch better than I could.”
Gantner and Martinez both got their chances. After Bando had pitched three innings, Gantner worked the eighth, allowing two hits but no runs. Martinez pitched the ninth inning, allowing one run.
Bando, in his first and only pitching appearance since high school, allowed two runs, both earned, on three hits. He walked none and struck out none. And on that particular day, his pitching was considerably better than his hitting. He went hitless in five at-bats in the Brewers’ 18-8 loss.
His one-game performance on the mound left him with a 0-0 record and a 6.00 earned-run average, which he considers qualification enough to give advice to any other non-pitcher considering a quick trip to the mound. “Don’t throw it where they can hit it back at you,” he said. “Make ‘em pull it. (And) don’t throw the ball too hard, because I couldn’t throw for two days after that stint.”