South Xtra: Wild Things first baseman enjoys playing for his dad

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Maybe an hour or so after Sunday afternoon's away game between the Washington Wild Things and the London, Ontario, Rippers, a father and son will make their way to a restaurant and share a meal.

It's an occasion that Wild Things' first baseman Michael Bando looks forward to as he will be able to take his father, Chris, the Wild Things manager, to dinner.

"It's always good to be able to spend Father's Day with my father," said the younger Bando, who is in his first year with the Wild Things, like his father and his younger brother Luke, the Wild Things' clubhouse attendant.

Michael Bando said there haven't been any memorable Father's Day baseball moments with his father, but he hopes that will change soon.

The season has been a challenging one thus far for the Bandos and the rest of the Wild Things. After 16 games, the team is 6-10, and Michael Bando, the team's first baseman is hitting .167 with no home runs, four doubles and 5 RBIs. His two-run double in the bottom of the third inning gave the Wild Things a short-lived 3-2 lead in a 7-4 loss to the Southern Illinois Miners on June 6.

This will be the sixth season the two have worn the same uniform.

"Yeah, it's kind of crazy," Michael Bando said. "He's actually followed me around my whole life. He was with me my first two years at The Master's College in Los Angeles as the assistant coach. Then, he was my head coach at San Diego Christian College for two years and I coached with him last year. That was a cool experience."

There have been some memorable seasons.

"One year when I was at The Master's College, we made the [NAIA]) playoffs and had a pretty significant run for a college team," he said. "With him being there and him seeing that and helping me and guiding me on the way was tremendous."

Most of the Wild Things' players refer to the elder Bando as "coach."

Not Michael Bando.

"It's kind of weird," he said. "But I call him 'father' on the field."

Chris Bando said he has enjoyed coaching his son. But he's had higher expectations regardless of the location.

"[Coaching my son] is a lot of fun," Chris Bando said. "I've coached him and two of my other sons in college, and it is a lot of fun. I'm probably harder on him than most [of the other] players as a father usually is. My expectations [for him] are a lot higher.

"But it's a lot of fun, but he knows he has to perform to play. It's a lot of fun to be around him and see him develop. I look forward to him having a good year for us."

Michael Bando agrees with his father's assessment about how he's treated.

"I'm a son, and I reflect upon him," he said. "He grew up playing with his older brother [Sal Bando], and Sal was his boss when [Chris Bando] was with the Brewers. He was hard on him, and I think he takes that same type of mentality [with me] because he expects more out of me. I represent him."

Much of the time, the Bandos are at Consol Energy Park or some other Frontier League baseball field. But on the rare occasions when the Bando family is able to sit down as a family for dinner, the table topic usually centers around baseball.

"[Conversations] are mainly around baseball," he said. "Even my mom chimes in on baseball. It's important to the family, and it's definitely the family business. They follow us out here, so it's important to them."

Everyone in the Bando family is in Washington for the summer. The dividends are plentiful.

"It's tremendous having my family here," Michael said. "Just the benefit of having home-cooked meals and my brother [Luke] being the [clubhouse attendant], investing in him and seeing him every day [is tremendous].

"I'm used to having my family with me everywhere I go. For them to continue to come here with me is awesome."



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