An Oklahoma legislator with celebrity status in Japan may be taking that fame worldwide soon, thanks to some beef jerky.
Randy Bass is well-known in political circles as an Oklahoma state senator, but politicians' autographs don't seem to be in high demand these days. At least not nearly in demand as a baseball legend in Japan, where he's know as "Basu."
"I can't get off the airplane, people sayin' 'Oh Basu,Basu,'" said Bass. "They want an autograph. And I can come back to Oklahoma and people have no clue who I am."
Bass played baseball in the major leagues with a handful of different teams, but it was only after he went to play in Japan that he hit the big time. He helped lead the Hanshin Tigers to their only National Championship almost nearly 30 years ago.
"The fans always remember 1985 when we won the championship," said Bass. " Not only me, but Kakefu, Ikeda, Mayumi and the other players on the team as well."
And it's that fame that may well propel a new line of food products into the Japanese consciousness as well. Bass's picture, name, and autograph are all on the new Basu brand which features beef jerky, jams, jellies, and even energy shots.
Bass was approached just a few months ago by the maker of the beef jerky products, and the whole line came together just in time for the International Food and Beverage Expo held last week in Japan. Gourmet Specialty Foods of Lawton, Bass's hometown had an encouraging trip, according to Bass.
"This is the first time a product's come out with my picture on it," he said. " So we expect really good things from this."
The Basu line is tailor-made for a Japanese audience, but there are plans to market it here in the United States as well. Bass knows though, that the marketing folks my have their hands full letting American audiences know who "Basu" is.
"I think they will," Bass said. "They'll have to really tell the story so everybody knows who I am."