Monday, April 13th 2009, 10:42 am
OKLAHOMA CITY -- What does Colonel Sanders have in common with an Oklahoma state senator? Plenty, and it has nothing to do with chicken.
To establish the connection, we have to go back almost 25 years, before Randy Bass ever thought about going into politics.
Bass, a Lawton native, was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1972. But the road to the majors was a long one. "I went to West Virginia, which was class 'A', I went to Lynchburg, Virginia the year after that," Bass said. "Very very few players go straight to the big leagues."
Bass played for the Twins, the Kansas City Royals, the Montreal Expos, the Texas Rangers, and the San Diego Padres. However, in 1983, he was given an option to play for Osaka Japan's Hanshin Tigers, and he accepted.
His first season was nothing spectacular, and his second was much better. But the 1985 season became one for the history books, literally. Bass and his teammates dominated the competition. The Tigers boasted more than 100 home runs in their starting infield.
"We had a guy named Kokefu who hit 47 home runs, Okada was the second baseman, he hit 35 home runs," Bass said. "Mayumi hit 35 home runs, and I (first base) hit 54 home runs, so it was unbelievable."
Tigers fans, delirious from their team's victory, gathered at the Dotonburi River in downtown Osaka to celebrate. Every player's name was called out, their song was sung, and a fan dressed as that player plunged into the river.
Bass's name was called, his song was sung, but there was no one who resembled the bearded American.
Determined fans made a run to the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant near Koshien Stadium but they weren't looking for drumsticks, they wanted the Colonel. They dressed him in Bass's jersey and chucked him into the dirty Dotonburi, not realizing that they were also sinking the future title hopes of their beloved Tigers.
"There's no resemblance at all," Bass laughed. "He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."
The Tigers haven't won a title since, leading some to believe that the "Curse of the Colonel" is very real.
But there is new hope in Osaka.
Japanese workers found the Colonel on March 11 while building a sidewalk near the river. He was missing the bottom half of his body, and both hands, but most was later recovered.
Japanese TV covered the find extensively, and Senator Bass has already done interviews with news agencies in India and the United Kingdom.
And he's anxious for his old team to put the "Curse of the Colonel" behind them.
"What a great year to win," he said. "It'd just be like it was written in a book y'know, like it's supposed to be."
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