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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Steven Bast, Student Athlete - 260

Check out the new Steven Bast feature from August 2011: His Dream

Sports is full of doctors. In basketball, there was Dr. J in Julius Erving. In baseball, there was Dr. K in Dwight Gooden. There was also the famed doctor of baseballs Gaylord Perry.

But none of them actually studied to be a doctor, much less while they were playing.

Steven Bast did.

During his final season in baseball, 1990, Bast tried to do both, pitch for the Red Sox top farm club and study for the Southern California's top medical school.

In the end, he made his choice: He wanted to be a doctor.

"I always liked to play the game, but that wasn't ever my dream," Bast told a University of Southern California alumni magazine in 1996. "I just always kinda used baseball as a stepping stone to get to where I wanted to go."

Where he wanted to go was the orthopedist's office.

Bast was taken by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 1986 draft, out of USC. While in school, he played summer baseball in Alaska with the Goldpanners.

His first year in the minors was good, posting a 1.87 ERA at short-season Elmira before being called up to AA New Britain. His first start at AA, Bast gave up two runs, but was pulled an out short of qualifying for the win.

In his second year, he was considered by one account a top prospect that could develop fast. But his ERA balooned that year to 4.46 at New Britain. By the end of the year, his arm was shot. He underwent Tommy John surgery, sitting out all of 1988.

But he returned in 1989, making it to AAA Pawtucket. He was also making his first moves back into medicine. Sports Illustrated picked up his story, putting in a note calling the minor leaguer a term usually reserved for college players, student athlete. Bast had been pre-med in his undergrad work, according to the feature, and he was already in the process of applying to med school.

In 1990, he posted a 7-16 record and a 5.65 ERA, while at the same time attending medical classes at USC.

In the movie Field of Dreams, the character Moonlight Graham, modeled off the real-life player-turned-doctor, explained how he was satisfied with his brief single game in the majors. If he'd only had a brief time as a doctor, that would have been the tragedy, he said.

Bast ended his career playing in one less major league game than Graham, but choosing the same path as Graham's, in medicine.

"I decided there's more to life than playing baseball," he told the alumni magazine.

1990 CMC Tally
Cards Reviewed: 59/880 - 6.7%
Made the Majors: 35 - 59%
Never Made the Majors: 24 - 41%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 14
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 19

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