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He Was A Beast. Until He Wasn’t.

He was a beast. Until he wasn’t. The end. But that is not how this story goes. Thirty years ago, Kevin Mass burst onto the scene as a rookie phenom, electrifying Yankees fans with 21 homers in 79 games. Everything he hit seems to have a home run stamped on it. Until suddenly it was No Maas.

But he resurfaced this week, thanks to an article from Bryan Hoch detailing how Maas mashed his way into Yanks lore. At the time he was brought up:

“The cellar-dwelling Yankees were 15 games behind the division-leading Red Sox when Maas received his call to the big leagues on June 29, 1990. Manager Stump Merrill scribbled the 25-year-old’s name into that evening’s lineup at Comiskey Park, and Maas recalls his nerves being calmed by the fact that he had faced White Sox star Jack McDowell several times during their college careers. Maas registered his first hit that night, then cleared the wall five days later, slugging a homer to right field off the Royals’ Bret Saberhagen on the Fourth of July in Kansas City. The road was good that summer to Maas (a few weeks later, he hit the first of two career homers off Nolan Ryan.

I remember this vividly as I would watch him every evening on WPIX and think he was the next great Yanks slugger. At the time, Donnie Baseball was at first but I was thinking his back was going to go with that swing of his, maybe Maas could play there? The outfield at the time was Mel Hall, Roberto Kelly and Jesse Barfield – maybe he would be able to play there? Speculation ran rampant. At the time, he was listed as the most favorite player of my local Little League All Stars in Jamestown NY. I wonder if they remember him?

Sadly his success would only be short lived. According to his Wiki page, the following season he served as the Yankees designated hitter and occasional fill-in for Mattingly at first base. Even though he played in 148 games, his sophomore season was not as successful as his first. He did hit 23 home runs (in 500 at bats), but hit just .220 with 128 strikeouts.

By 1992, Maas was shuffling back and forth between the major and minor leagues. He was released by the Yankees in 1994. He bounced around between San Diego, Cincinnati, and Minnesota. He briefly returned to the majors in 1995 with Minnesota but it was clear he was a “one hit wonder.” Maas then signed with the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Central League in 1996 to replace Glenn Davis.

Who knows? If he would’ve made it, maybe the Yanks never trade Kelly to the Reds for Paul O’Neill?

In 2007, Maas landed with the Charles Schwab firm in his hometown of Castro Valley, Calif., where he focuses on private wealth management.


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