Randy Bass
Randy Bass.jpg
Minority Leader of the Oklahoma Senate
In office
unknown – July 3, 2015
Succeeded byJohn Sparks
Member of the Oklahoma Senate
from the 32nd district
In office
January 4, 2005 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byJim Maddox
Succeeded byJohn Montgomery
Personal details
Born (1954-03-13) March 13, 1954 (age 68)
Lawton, Oklahoma, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Kelley Bass[1]

Baseball career
First baseman
Born: (1954-03-13) March 13, 1954 (age 68)
Lawton, Oklahoma
Batted: Left
Threw: Right
Professional debut
MLB: September 3, 1977, for the Minnesota Twins
NPB: 1983, for the Hanshin Tigers
Last appearance
MLB: June 7, 1982, for the Texas Rangers
NPB: 1988, for the Hanshin Tigers
MLB statistics
Batting average.212
Home runs9
Runs batted in42
NPB statistics
Batting average.337
Home runs202
Runs batted in486
Career highlights and awards

Randy William Bass (born March 13, 1954) is an American politician and former baseball player. As a baseball player, Bass found most of his success in Japan, where he twice won the league's batting Triple Crown and still holds the highest single-season batting average; he is considered one of the greatest American players in Japanese baseball history.[3] From 2005 to 2019, Bass served as a Democratic State Senator from Oklahoma, representing District 32.



Bass began his career 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 to pinch hit. Bass posted a .212 batting average in 325 at-bats with 9 home runs and 42 runs batted in in 130 games played. 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 with single-handedly turning around the fortunes of the Tigers, which ultimately resulted in the team's pennant run and Japan Series title in 1985.

Bass adapted quickly to Japanese pitching, hitting 35 home runs in his first season in 1983, and became the Tigers' star slugger for several seasons. 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 challenged Sadaharu Oh's record of 55 home runs in a single season, but finished the year with 54. In the last game of the season, the pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants — then managed by Oh — intentionally walked Bass each time, seemingly to prevent him from having a chance to equal or break the record.[4][5]

Bass was released by Hanshin in June 1988 when he returned to the United States after his son Zach 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.[1] 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.[3][1] (Bass's son recovered from the tumor.)[2]

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 Dōtonbori 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 team's subsequent decade-long dismal performance in the Central League.[6]

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 an 18-year absence, 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 Dōtonbori KFC branch was bolted down to prevent a repeat of the incident.[7]

On March 10, 2009, the top half of the statue (minus hands) originally thrown into the Dōtonbori River was recovered during construction of a walkway. A diver said that he thought he had found a large barrel, but was surprised when it turned out to be the upper body of the Colonel.[8] The statue's legs and right hand were recovered the following day. The statue is still missing its glasses and left hand. The statue is currently in a KFC franchise across the street from Koshien Stadium.[9]

Name in Japanese

Although Bass' surname would conventionally be transcribed Basu (バス) in Japanese, Randy Bass is known in Japan as Bāsu (バース, pronounced [baːsɯ]). The Hanshin Tigers requested the change because the corporate owner of the team, Hanshin Electric Railway Co., Ltd., directly owned a bus line (Hanshin Bus) during Bass' playing career. Because "bus" is also transcribed in Japanese as basu (バス), the Tigers' management worried that Japanese newspapers might create headlines such as "Hanshin Bus unstoppable" (if he made consecutive hits), "Hanshin Bus explodes" (if he hit a home run), or "Hanshin Bus crashes" (if he slumped), which would have a negative impact on the corporate image of Hanshin Bus.[10]


Senator Randy Bass at a promotional event in Japan, December 2013
Senator Randy Bass at a promotional event in Japan, December 2013

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 Senate as a Democrat in 2004. He was re-elected in 2006, defeating Ed Petersen in the general election. He was again re-elected in 2010 and 2014, running unopposed in the former, and unchallenged in the latter. In the Senate, he served as the co-chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee Natural Resources and Regulatory Services. He also sat on the Appropriations, Retirement and Insurance, General Government and Judiciary Committees.


  1. ^ a b c Meece, Volney. "Season to Forget: Bizarre Occurences [sic] Throw Bass' Baseball Career a Curve," The Oklahoman (December 18, 1988).
  2. ^ a b "Oklahoma Sen. Randy Bass (D): 32nd district," TrackBill.com. Retrieved Aug. 22, 2021: "[Bass] enjoys spending time with his wife Kelley, his son Zach, daughters Staci and Remi and his four grandchildren Levi, Hagen, Jayden and Randi."
  3. ^ a b Shapiro, Michael. "Suicide Spurs Reflections on Japanese Baseball," The New York Times (July 27, 1988).
  4. ^ Whiting, Robert, "Equaling Oh's HR record proved difficult", The Japan Times, October 31, 2008, p. 12.
  5. ^ Merron, J. "The Phoniest Records in Sports," ESPN Sports Nation (February 25, 2003). Archived at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ White, Paul (August 19, 2003). "The Colonel's Curse runs deep". USA Today. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  7. ^ Davisson, Zack (2006). Osaka InfoGuide. Japan: Carter Witt Media. pp. 20–23.
  8. ^ "Colonel stages a comeback in Osaka". The Japan Times. March 11, 2009. Retrieved March 11, 2009.
  9. ^ "Colonel Sanders statue back at KFC 25 years on". The Japan Times. March 20, 2010.
  10. ^ 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. January 3, 2012. Archived from the original on January 4, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2015.