BY ANGIE FENTON | PHOTOS BY TONY BENNETT
BOBBY BASS WASN’T GOOD AT BASEBALL – HE WAS GREAT. SO MUCH SO, FOR A TIME, HE WAS THE YOUNGEST PLAYER EVER TO BE DRAFTED BY A PROFESSIONAL TEAM, BUT WHEN FACED WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO TURN HIS ATHLETIC TALENT INTO A CAREER, BASS DISCOVERED SOMETHING EVEN GREATER.
Growing up, “I had a lot of questions about my past. I was very, very frustrated,” said Bass, who was raised by his mother – with help from his grandparents – when his biological father stepped out of his life.
Eventually, Bass’ mother married Keith, a man who “was a phenomenal, phenomenal father and still is to this day.” Keith’s job as a national sales manager led the family from Tulsa to Texas to California, where he and Bass bonded over their love of baseball. “He worked with me countless hours and was a coach,” Bass said. “He never missed a game.”
Despite Keith’s dedication to his stepson, “I had my issues,” said Bass. The youngster began to make poor decisions when he was off the ﬁeld and harboring more and more resentment.
Raised in the church and a believer in God, “My problem was with the way He was doing things,” Bass said. “It was never an atheistic approach, I was just very, very angry with Him. In fact, I remember at one point I actually told (God) I hated Him. I was so angry, I had so many questions, I had so many wounds and I couldn’t get any answers.”
Bass kept playing – and excelling at – baseball while also getting into escalating amounts of trouble. At the age of 15, he started to receive letters of interest from professional baseball. Then, when he turned 17, Bass was drafted by the Colorado Rockies. “I was actually the youngest player to be drafted at that time,” he said. “Because I was so young, the idea was to spend a year to get better and then go higher in the draft.”
The plan was for Bass to go to a junior college and play baseball as he prepared for the big leagues. “The problem was I still had my issues,” he said. “I drank a lot. I got more into drugs. I just made a tremendous amount of poor decisions. The irony of it is you would think after I got drafted… you’d think I would be happy and carefree and excited, but the problem was I still had a massive void that I couldn’t ﬁll, not even with baseball.”
Things got so bad, “I went from one of the best prospects in California (and) at 17 drafted to being kicked off the team because my antics and behavior were so poor,” he said. “Of course, I’m omitting a lot of details, but my personal battles were dark and deep.”
Quickly, Bass’ mother and stepfather made a decision to move to Dallas, hoping to help Bass leave his troubled lifestyle behind. “It was very difficult for me. I knew there was an issue but I didn’t want to address it. … I kind of lost everything and everyone I knew.”
But that same despair led Bass to seek out friends who pastored a church in the Texas city.
“I went in (to the church) the first day and they were having a good time with live music, which is always kind of fun, and I remember I went in and I just balled and balled. Tears would come down and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what I’ve been looking for.’ I felt Him,” Bass said, choking back fresh tears as he recalled the moment. “I’d found something that for all these years had finally given me peace and had wiped my slate clean. … This is the one thing that gave me peace. I think at the end of the day, that’s what everybody wants. I don’t care what walk of life or what you deal with, they just want to be happy and have peace. So, I was so ecstatic that I found mine because I had looked for it for so long, and everything I figured would do it just wasn’t doing it.”
Until that moment.
Yet the problem was Bass was expected to go back into the draft and pursue the career path his phenomenal talents and abilities seemed to have led him. At least it would have been a problem before. “I was so touched and so changed, I quit baseball and I decided to come up here (to Southern Indiana) to pursue my spiritual education” at the church’s headquarters in Jeffersonville.
Today, Bass is a real estate associate broker at Bass Group Real Estate in Jeffersonville, where he works with a talented team that includes his wife, Ysha Bass. He remains a changed man but isn’t shy about admitting his relationship with God requires daily work. “My experience came when I realized I needed help. I’m going to try you out (God) for myself because I’ve got no other answers. So it started with a simple question, ‘Who are you and what do you want from me?’ People can laugh or whatever, though it really doesn’t matter to me, but I talk to Him just like I’m talking to you. … That’s how my life got changed: when I … developed that personal relationship with Him.”
Still, he’s human, and faced with the prospect of a mega career as a professional baseball player, hasn’t he regretted his decision to walk away from sport at least a time or two?
“Never once,” Bass said. “If anyone could be in that room when I had that experience and have that deep down, core, absolutely no question peace of mind, they would understand. I have had absolutely zero regrets and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was what I had been looking for.”