Bass coached a host of professional players, including former major
leaguers Dave Bergman and Lee "Buzz" Capra, as well as numerous high
school and college baseball coaches, including current Redbird head
coach Jim Brownlee. Bass amassed 25 winning seasons during his
career, which spanned a quarter-century.
Brownlee, who also served
as an assistant coach under Bass during the 1976 season, remembers
Bass as a mentor.
"Coach Bass was a mentor for me, both personally and
professionally," said Brownlee. "I played for him on his first team
in 1963 and went on to play for him on the 1969 national
championship team. He was also responsible for getting me into
coaching as an assistant with him in 1976 and also as a coach in the
CICL. He meant a lot to me and my entire family, and he will be
Illinois State's Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger
extended the department's fondness for Bass.
"Our sympathies are with the Bass family," Zenger said. "Not only
was Duffy a coaching icon at Illinois State, but all around
collegiate baseball. His 700-plus coaching victories and the
national championship in 1969 speak for themselves. It's never a
good day when you lose a member of the Redbird family, and we are
all saddened by the news."
Bass first arrived on the Illinois State campus in 1946 as an
undergraduate student and member of the Redbird baseball team. He
was a catcher on the team from 1946-1950 and caught the game against
Southern Illinois when Mike Rzadski set a school strikeout record
with 21 fanned batters.
After graduating from ISU in 1950, Bass was a teacher and coach
at University High School on the Illinois State campus until 1962,
when he took time off to complete work on his doctorate from
Louisiana State. He earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees
from Illinois State.
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Bass received his doctorate in education in 1964, the same spring
that he completed his first season under the helm of the Redbird
baseball program. By Bass' third season at ISU, the Redbirds had
risen to prominence in the NCAA College Division (now Division II)
with a 28-4 record and a 1966 championship of the Interstate
Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while making the first of five
straight trips to postseason play.
Bass' teams advanced to the NCAA College Division Playoffs from
1966-1970, highlighted by the 1969 team that finished its 33-5
season at the top of college division baseball, earning Bass the
NCAA College Division Coach of the Year award. In 1976, the 'Birds
were selected to play in its first NCAA Division I Baseball
Tournament, as Bass was named the Illinois Coach of the Year for his
Bass was also instrumental in numerous improvements in the
Redbird and local community. During his tenure, Bass coached at two
different ISU baseball facilities. He coached the first game at the
first Redbird Field, now the site of Redbird Arena, in 1964, and
opened ISU's new baseball facility, Redbird Field, in 1988. Bass
also was active in summer baseball in the Bloomington-Normal area,
as he founded the Twin City Stars of the Central Illinois Collegiate
League in 1982 and served as the team's general manager.
Born Jan. 11, 1926, in Toluca, Bass was a World War II veteran as
a member of the U.S. States Navy. After retiring from coaching in
1988, Bass served as a professor in ISU's department of kinesiology.
He is also a member of the Illinois Baseball Coaches Association
Hall of Fame and served as president and NCAA liaison to the Central
Illinois Collegiate League. Bass shared his knowledge of coaching,
participating as a noted speaker at many baseball-related meetings
Bass is survived by his wife, Helen, and three children, Linda,
Jim and Lori.
[Text from file received from Todd Kober,
assistant athletics director, media relations,