Bill Bass

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Bill "Billy" Bass
Born: 1921
Greensboro, North Carolina, U.S.
Died: (aged 45)
Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada
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

William "Billy" Bass (1921 – September 28, 1967) 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, at the age of 45.


  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 Archived 2012-03-03 at the Wayback Machine.