An Interview with Kevin Bass

added 1/14/02 by Ray Kerby

Kevin Bass was an integral part of the 1986 NL West Championship team that went six games deep into the NLCS. Playing right field, Bass combined power and speed, and his All-Star season in 1986 is a big reason why the Astros made it to the playoffs.

(c) Houston Astros
Ray Kerby: As a child, did you always want to be a ballplayer? What made you want to be a ballplayer? How did you get started?

Kevin Bass: Yes. At the age of 14 I made a conscious decision to become a big league player. I started playing baseball at age 5.

RK: Growing up in California, who were your favorite team and players? Why did you like them?

KB: The San Francisco Giants -- Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Bobby Bonds. Growing up in Menlo Park, California, they were the hometown team.

RK: In high school, you were an all-league player in football and baseball. Why did you choose baseball over football? What went through your mind when you were selected by Milwaukee in the 2nd round of the 1977 draft?

KB: I really loved playing football. I had aspirations to play college football. My Junior year, I decided to just skip the basketball season and focus on lifting to get strong for my Senior football. When baseball started, scouts started coming out to watch me play. After being draft, I was flattered and surprised.

(c) Houston Astros

RK: What were your strengths and weaknesses as a player? Did any other players work with you where you first made it to the big leagues? How did they help you with your game?

KB: Strengths - 1. Speed   2. Strong arm   3. Switch hitter   4. Power   5. Average fielder   6. Smart player
Weaknesses - 1. Lefthanded hitting techniques   2. Basestealing techniques
Cecil Cooper with the Milwaukee Brewers was a mentor to me.

RK: What do you remember about your first major league game? What about your first major-league hit, which came as an Astro, to drive home a run against Atlee Hammaker?

KB: My first game was in Toronto, Exhibition Stadium. It had been snowing and the weather was 30 degrees. That first hit was righthanded off Atlee Hammaker. It was a hanging slider.

RK: When you came to Houston as part of a deal for star pitcher Don Sutton, did you feel any additional pressure to perform? How do you feel knowing that what is now known as the "Sutton for Bass" trade turned out to be one of the best the Astros ever made?

KB: For me, getting traded was pressure enough because I knew that this was my chance and opportunity to finally play every day in the big leagues. I feel very proud to have been traded for a Hall of Famer.

RK: In your days with the Astros, who were some of the players you got along with? Any funny stories?

KB: Everybody except Hal Lanier. Funny stories? Yeah, Hal Lanier!

(c) Donruss

RK: What are your fondest memories from your days in the major leagues?

KB: '86 playoffs, '86 All-Star Game in Houston, homering from both sides of the plate, and of course some of the guys.

RK: Who was the toughest pitcher you had to face, and why?

KB: Craig Lefferts. He had tricky stuff! He was always ahead in the count to me.

RK: What are your thoughts on the 1986 playoffs, and the gut wrenching game 6?

KB: Actually, my adrenaline was so high for that whole series, most of it was like a blur, except for that last at bat. I felt I had a pretty good series but it was pretty disappointing losing that extra-inning game.

RK: Hitting for the cycle is one of the most difficult accomplishments for a batter, because it requires speed, power and a lot of luck. In a game against the Giants in 1987, you legged out a double in the 7th inning even though you only needed a single at the time to complete the cycle. To me, that was a great example of a player putting the team ahead of his individual accomplishment. What was the reaction from the players after you did that?

KB: Most of them told me I should have tripped coming around first. Actually the double was a bloop double between the left fielder and shortstop. So you have to run hard, right?

RK: In your "free agency" season in 1989, you broke your leg in a freak play. Can you describe how it happened? How did this affect your play in later years?

KB: It was in Pittsburgh. Mike Landrum, their closer, was pitching and he threw a cutter down and in which I swung at and hit smack dab into my right shin. I collapsed at home plate and couldn't get up (much like what happened to Jermaine Dye of the A's this year). My leg completely healed about 12 weeks later.

RK: In 1993, you came back to play again for the Astros and played very well as a 4th outfielder. Can you describe how your role with the team had changed since your first time in Houston?

KB: In 1990 while with the Giants, I hurt my left knee and, for the next three seasons, that's how long it took to heal. I lost my starting role and was relegated to the fourth outfield role. Because of injuries, the Astros saw me as a backup and never really gave me a shot at legitimately winning a starting role again.

RK: What are your thoughts on the players' strike in 1994?

KB: It's something that didn't have to happen, and something that hurt my career personally.

RK: What have you been doing since you left baseball?

KB: Being a husband to my wife and father to my four children; playing a lot of golf (5 handicap). Last year I got to do a radio sports talk show for one hour every Thursday during baseball season last year.

RK: Any advice you can offer for aspiring players?

KB: 1. Follow your dreams   2. Work on your weaknesses   3. Pray a lot   4. Want it so bad that it "oozes from your pores"

RK: Thanks very much for your time, Mr. Bass.