Gold Sox' Bass Reels In Ring In Japan
October 31, 2016

While the World Series between the Cubs and Indians sails into November, on the other side of the planet, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters have won the Japan Series, and a man who spent a season in Marysville, played an integral part.

Anthony Bass (Gold Sox 2007) pitched 6 2/3 innings, did not allow an earned run, struck out 8, and won three games, including the game-six clincher, a 10-4 win over the Hiroshima Carp. Bass also drove in a run with an eighth-inning single in that final game, and scored when series MVP Brandon Laird hit a grand slam.

“I feel like I did my job, so I was happy with that,” Bass told the Japan Times. “More important is winning the championship. That’s why I signed here in Japan. I wanted to be part of a championship.”

Bass signed with the Fighters (not the Ham Fighters. Hokkaido is where they play (Sapporo to be exact, on the island of Hokkaido), Nippon Ham is the team sponsor, and Fighters are the nickname) this off season after being released by the Seattle Mariners in January. Just two months earlier, Bass was traded to Seattle from the Texas Rangers along with outfielder Leonys Martin for three players, including relief pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen. Bass had been 33 games with the Rangers in 2015—all in relief.

Marysville got to know Bass almost ten years ago. Following the 2006 season which saw the Gold Sox bolster a franchise-best 41-9 record in their fourth collegiate wood-bat season, and a team earned run average of an incredibly microscopic 1.78, Bass was one of a new group of arms that almost duplicated that feat. They were 33-14, but had a team ERA of 2.10. Bass was 6-2 with a 1.92 ERA, and opponents batted just .189 against him.

It wasn't much of a surprise that Bass would go back to his native Michigan and Wayne State University in Detroit, finish up his senior season there, and then was selected in the fifth round of the 2008 draft by the San Diego Padres. He signed almost immediately, and just one day shy of three years later, made his major league debut—a start and a win in rainy Colorado.

But Anthony's ERA went up steadily in his short time in the bigs. It was just 1.68 in just over 48 innings in that 2011 season. He worked 90 innings in '12 with a respectable 4.73 mark, but was just 2-8 for the Padres. San Diego used him exclusively as a reliever in 2013 and the earned run average went up to 5.36. He was moved to the Houston Astros in 2014 where the ERA grew to 6.33. He signed with Texas for 2015, and the average finally fell to 4.50.

Bass may have found a home in the Far East. The Fighters won the Pacific League, then entered the best-of-seven showdown with the Central League champion Carp. The Carp went up two games to nothing, and had retiring superstar pitcher (and former Dodger) Hiroki Kuroda on the mound in game three. Nippon Ham escaped with a win, and won four straight, and avoided Kuroda in a potential game seven. Bass earned three of the four Fighter victories.

“Definitely feel like we’re on top of the world right now,” Bass said to the Japanese paper. “Everyone put a lot of hard work in all season long, leading up to this. We faced a good team in the Carp. It wasn’t an easy series by any means. But we found a way to win, and it feels great.”

Diamond studded: Although he has not appeared in the post-season., another Gold Sox alum is one Cleveland win away from owning a World Series ring. After an impressive 7-3, 3.05 rookie season last year, Cody Anderson was 2-5 this year. He made 9 starts and 10 relief appearance this season after being used exclusively as a starter last year. Anderson was on the ALDS and ALCS rosters, but did not pitch. He is not on the World Series roster.

Sox and league notes: At least two teams in the Great West League will have new managers next season, including in Marysville. The Portland Pickles have named former major league pitcher Jeff Lahti as their new skipper, replacing J.J. Altobelli. Lahti, who pitched in the 1982 and 1985 World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals, and won a playoff game against the Dodgers in '85, is from nearby Oregon City, and is coaching there at Clackamas Community College...I missed the memo, but it has been official for some time that Gold Sox skipper Mike Walker will not return in 2017. Assistant coach Dallas Correa, who is from Hawai'i and coaches at Hawai'i Pacific, will become the franchise's fourth manager.

Amen: This was hidden in the middle of the home page of, “We are very sorry, but there are no major league games today. We hope you won't be too depressed.”

I wonder: Do you think English-language baseball announcers are needed in Japan? Could be fun.

Photo: Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama receives the traditional doage (victory toss) after the team defeated the Hiroshima Carp 10-4 in Game 6 of the Japan Series on Saturday. From the Japan Times. Bass is in there somewhere.

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