Greenwood’s starting third baseman was born two years after his father started his tenure as the Woodmen baseball coach.

To senior T.J. Bass, everything about the facility southeast of the school is viewed as a home away from home.

“When he was a baby, one of the things I told my wife, Jenni, was that we weren’t going to force our kids to do anything they didn’t want to do,” said Andy Bass, a 1995 Franklin College graduate who took over the Greenwood program at the start of the 1998 season.

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“T.J. developed that love of the game at an early age, but I tried to step back so that I didn’t force it on him. I probably didn’t work with him as much as I could, but I didn’t want T.J. to burn out on it.”

As so often happens, dad’s passion became the son’s passion.

By the time T.J. — named Thomas Joseph after his two grandfathers — was 3, he was attending games in his own Greenwood baseball uniform. As he got older, he hit balls off a tee following his father’s practices and roamed the grass field while Woodmen players hit grounders and fly balls to him.

About to start his senior season, T.J., now 6-foot-2, 225 pounds and signed to play baseball at Taylor University, acknowledges the end of a special era is now weeks rather than years away.

Greenwood’s season opens March 31 with a doubleheader at Madison.

“I definitely think my freshman year people could think I played varsity because I was the coach’s kid,” T.J. said. “But I think my dad handled it pretty well. Baseball has created more of a bond between us. I can’t wait to see what happens this season.”

T.J. Bass is a four-year varsity starter capable of being utilized at four different positions defensively. Primarily a third baseman, he’s also caught, played first and pitched in relief.

His best season statistically came in 2016. Bass, then a sophomore, hit .299 with three round-trippers and 23 runs batted in. He’s belted seven home runs, scored 25 runs and recorded 50 RBIs in his career.

The younger Bass is confident he can do more.

“Something I wanted to improve the most is being a leader. Being a team supported and showing everyone that we can compete,” he said. “Be the kind of guy that other guys look up to and want to be around.”

Andy Bass admits it’s not always easy separating the father-son dynamic.

Early in his sophomore season, T.J. Bass hit his first high school home run in a Mid-State Conference victory against Martinsville. A grand slam, no less.

Seeing his son’s smile as he rounded the bases, Andy Bass had difficulty maintaining his composure.

Similar emotions are likely to come to the surface when the Woodmen celebrate senior day during a May 12 doubleheader against Scottsburg.

“I’ve talked a lot over the years to guys who coach their sons,” Andy Bass said. “The best advice I’ve been given is that once practice is over, leave baseball behind and just be dad. It’s been a great relationship for us.”

By the numbers

THE BASS FILE

Statistics for Greenwood baseball player T.J. Bass the past three seasons:

Year;Avg.;R;HR;RBI

2017;.235;9;4;20

2016;.299;11;3;23

2015;.200;5;0;7

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.