Bill Bass

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For other uses, see William Bass (disambiguation).
Bill "Billy" Bass
Date of birth 1922
Place of birth Greensboro, NC
Date of death September 28, 1967(1967-09-28) (aged 45)
Career information
CFL status International
Position(s) RB
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg)
College University of Nevada, Reno & Tennessee State University
Career history
As player
1947 Chicago Rockets
1948 Montreal Alouettes
1950-53 Toronto Argonauts
1954 Ottawa Rough Riders
1955 Toronto Balmy Beach Beachers
Career highlights and awards
CFL All-Star 1951
Honors Grey Cup champion - 1950 & 1952
Career stats

Bill "Billy" Bass was an all-star and Grey Cup champion running back in the Canadian Football League and one of the first players to break the colour barrier in Canadian football.[1]

Bass attended University of Nevada, Reno and Tennessee State University, and was surrounded in controversy when a Nevada, Reno game was canceled because Mississippi State University's football team would not play them because Bass (and another teammate) were "Negroes".[2] He started his pro career with the Chicago Rockets of the AAFC, where in 1947 he rushed for 44 yards and caught 8 passes for 79 yards. He then moved to Canada, where he played 11 games with the Montreal Alouettes.[3] After trying out with the Rockets in 1949, he then moved on to the Toronto Argonauts where he would play 45 regular season and 9 playoff games in 4 seasons, also being selected an All-Star in 1951.[4] He was also part of their 1950 and 1952 Grey Cup teams. Import player rules cost him his position with the Boatmen, but he played 1954 with the Ottawa Rough Riders[5] and was player coach with the Toronto Balmy Beach Beachers in his final season.

Bill Bass was one of the first group of African-American players to break the colour barrier in Canadian football, following the path blazed by Herb Trawick. He died September 28, 1967, only 45 years old.


  1. ^ CFLAPEDIA Entry : Bill Bass
  2. ^ Negroes Banned, Tilt Canceled by Nevada, The Milwaukee Journal - November 5, 1946
  3. ^ Montreal Alouettes All-Time Roster
  4. ^ 2009 Toronto Argonauts Media Guide
  5. ^ Ottawa Rough Rider Player Database