(If you like some cardboard with your baseball trivia, read the rest of our related posts here.)
Mickey Mantle was one of the greatest players of all time, and his emergence in center field for the New York Yankees in the 1950s just as America was starting to gleam again after World War II has inspired generations of boyhood dreams.
Kevin Bass was once a promising young outfielder whom the Milwaukee Brewers selected out of Menlo High School in Atherton, California, in the 1977 amateur draft.
Unlike Mantle, Bass took a few season to make his way through the Milwaukee minor league chain and didn’t grab regular playing time in the Major Leagues until 1984, two years after he had been traded to the Houston Astros.
At age 25 that season, Bass hit .260 in 121 games.
By contrast, The Mick hit .365 with 34 home runs en route to his second consecutive American League MVP award during his age-25 season in 1957.
The two players were worlds apart in terms of talent and results, but they did have a few things in common:
- They were switch hitters.
- They played in the outfield.
- They swung for the fences.
- They both had good speed on the base paths.
In fact, by the time 1987 rolled around, Bass had established himself as a consistent power threat for the Astros, and one who could steal a base, too, if you needed it.
In 1986, for example, Bass had joined the 20-20 club by smacking 20 homers and stealing 22 bases.
Of course, those numbers didn’t really excite collectors, even though some of us realized the cavernous Astrodome swallowed up power hitters like M & Ms.
But on September 2, 1987, Kevin Bass stepped into the batter’s box — as a righty — against the Chicago Cubs’ Drew Hall in the sixth inning and smacked his second home run of the game. The first had come against Rick Sutcliffe — as a lefty — in the fourth inning.
Beyond helping the Astros thrash the Cubbies, 10-1, Bass’s performance was especially notable because …
- He hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the game.
- He had also hit a home run from both sides of the plate in a game against the San Francisco Giants on August 3.
- No National League player had ever hit a home run from both sides of the plate during a game in the same season before that.
- Mickey Mantle had accomplished the feat several times in the Americal League (Eddie Murray did it in the AL before ’87, too).
So, for that one day, Kevin Bass was the mustachioed Mickey Mantle of the National League.
Or something like that.
It wasn’t quite the peak of his career, as that came the season before, but it was certainly one of Bass’s career highlights.
It might also interest you to know that Bass pulled off his feat just 13 days before Chili Davis logged his second, two-sided-homer da of the season for the San Francisco Giants.
And just a few years later, another National Leaguer joined the club. His name?
Ain’t baseball grand?