Randy Bass at a promotional event in Japan, December 2013
|Member of the Oklahoma Senate
from the 32nd district
March 13, 1954 |
|Height||185 cm (6 ft 1 in)|
|Occupation||politician, former baseball player|
March 13, 1954 |
|MLB: September 3, 1977, for the Minnesota Twins|
|NPB: 1983, for the Hanshin Tigers|
|MLB: June 7, 1982, for the Texas Rangers|
|NPB: 1988, for the Hanshin Tigers|
|Runs batted in||486|
|Career highlights and awards|
Randy William Bass (born March 13, 1954) is an American politician and former baseball player. He is less notable for his career in Major League Baseball than for his success in Japan's Hanshin Tigers of Central League. Since 2004, Bass has served as a Democratic State Senator from Oklahoma, representing District 32.
Bass came up with the Minnesota Twins as a first baseman in 1977. In his six seasons in the Major Leagues (divided among five teams), he was never a day-to-day player, usually coming off the bench just to pinch hit. After his contract expired following the 1982 season, Bass signed with the Hanshin Tigers of the Central League, who made him their starting first-baseman. Bass is often credited as single-handedly turning the fortune of the Tigers which resulted in the team's pennant run and eventual victory of the Japan Series in 1985.
Bass took advantage of the differences between Japanese and American styles of pitching, and immediately became the Tigers' star slugger. He won four consecutive league batting titles; in 1986, he nearly became the first player in Japan to bat .400, finishing the season with a .389 average, a record that still stands, despite Ichiro Suzuki's formidable challenges to it in 1994 and 2000. Bass won consecutive batting Triple Crowns (1985 and 1986). In 1985, he was on a pace to break Sadaharu Oh's record of 55 home runs in a single season, but fell short by one, because in the last game of the season the pitcher from Oh's Yomiuri Giants threw only intentional walks (allegedly to prevent the Westerner from breaking Oh's record). In Japan, his spectacular performance is a legend and among Tigers fans; he is nearly deified, being jokingly referred in conjunction with God and Buddha, "Kami-sama (God), Hotoke-sama (Buddha), Baasu-sama (Bass)" (sama is an honorary variation of "san" similar to Sir or His holiness).
Bass was released by Hanshin in June 1988 when he returned to the United States after his son was diagnosed with brain cancer. Although the Tigers had authorized Bass to leave Japan, they later claimed that no such authorization had been given and fired Bass in absentia. However, Bass produced a tape recording establishing definitively that the Tigers had authorized his leave of absence. In disgrace, the General Manager of the Hanshin Tigers, Shingo Furuya, committed suicide.
Curse of the Colonel
Bass is also famous in Japan for the "Curse of the Colonel". Following the 1985 Series victory, revelers celebrated by calling off the names of team members one by one. At each name, a fan who looked like that player would jump into the filthy Dotonbori canal. For Bass, someone threw a life-sized model of Colonel Sanders, the mascot of Kentucky Fried Chicken and the only close-at-hand likeness of a bearded American, into the river. The statue disappeared and is said to have caused the subsequent decade-long dismal performance in the Central League.
In an attempt to remove the curse, fans made repeated attempts to find the model, making offerings to the statues of the Colonel for forgiveness. In 2003, when the Tigers returned to the Japan Series after 18 years with one of the worst records in the Central League, many KFC outlets in Kōbe and Ōsaka moved their Colonel Sanders statues inside until the series was over to protect them from rabid Tigers fans. The newly replaced Colonel Sanders statue in the Dotonbori KFC branch was bolted down to prevent a repeat of the incident.
On March 10, 2009, the top half of the statue (minus hands and legs) originally thrown into the Dotonbori River was recovered during construction of a walkway. A diver said that he had thought he had found a large barrel, but was surprised when it turned out to be the upper body of the Colonel. The statue's legs and right hand were recovered the following day. The statue is still missing its glasses and left hand. The statue of Colonel Sanders is currently in a KFC franchise across the street from Koshien Stadium.
After his 1988 retirement, Bass became active in community projects to promote baseball in his native state, while continuing to make trips to Japan as a cultural ambassador. Bass was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate as a Democrat in 2004. He was re-elected in 2006. In the Senate he serves as the Co-Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee Natural Resources and Regulatory Services. He also sits on the Appropriations, Retirement and Insurance, General Government and Judiciary Committees.
Name in Japanese
Although the name Bass would conventionally be transcribed Basu (バス?) in Japanese, Randy Bass is known in Japan as Bāsu (バース?, pronounced [baːsɯ̥]). The Hanshin Tigers requested the change because the owner of the team, Hanshin Electric Railway Co., Ltd., directly owned a bus-operation in those days (currently owned by Hanshin Bus Co., Ltd.). Because "bus" is written exactly the same as Bass in Japanese (basu), the Tigers worried that Japanese media might create headlines such as "Bus unstoppable" (if he made consecutive hits), "Bus explodes" (if he hit a home run) or "Bus crashes" (if he slumped), which would have a negative impact to the corporate image of Hanshin Bus.
- Merron, J. "The Phoniest Records in Sports". (Feb 2003)., retrieved from ESPN.com on March 29, 2007
- White, Paul (August 19, 2003). "The Colonel's Curse runs deep". USA Today. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Davisson, Zack (2006). Osaka InfoGuide. Japan: Carter Witt Media. pp. 20–23.
- "Colonel stages a comeback in Osaka". The Japan Times. March 11, 2009. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
- "Senator Randy Bass - District 32". Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- 最強の助っ人が退団 息子の治療の裏にあったものは… [Strongest import leaves team - Details behind son's treatment]. MSN West (in Japanese). Japan: Microsoft. 2012-01-03. Retrieved 2015-06-12.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Oklahoma State Senate page
- Lawton Politics
- Sen. Bass official Bio
- City of Lawton official Webpage
|Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize