A live bear? In a stadium? What could go wrong?
Just like most universities, Baylor began its foray into collegiate sports mascot-less. Finally in 1914, George Baines Rosborough, a former student proposed that the school should hold a contest to give the university a mascot. He wanted them to have a mascot “around which to wreathe the sentiment of the school in poems and songs and yells, and in college customs which add so much to college life.”
Whatever that means…
The schools received 24 entries for the contest and when it held its vote, 206 of the 406 ballots cast came back with bear as the chosen mascot.
In 1917 U.S. Army troops came to Waco, Texas following the creation of Camp MacArthur. Members of the 107th Engineers of the Army’s 32nd Division were stationed at the camp and acquired a live bear as their mascot.
During a Baylor football game in Nov. 1917, the Engineers decided to bring their bear to the stadium with them, which the first time a bear attended a Baylor event. Or so they thought…security mistook these two for fans in 1916.
The Engineers later donated their bear to Baylor in 1918 (probably because it was a f***ing bear and had no place on an Army base).
As time has gone on, Baylor has had a number of bears on campus and living at near-by zoos, which have appeared at football games. One, even lived in a student’s backyard and shockingly got too big to live in a backyard.
No one EVER saw that coming…
And what’s the worst that could happen with a bear in a stadium?
Today, the Bill & Eva Williams Bear Habitat, which was dedicated during Homecoming in 2005, stands on campus in Hudson Plaza. The habitat provides natural landscaping with room for the bears to roam and it is licensed as by the USDA as a Class C Zoo.
C’s get degrees and Baylor knows all about that… ranked No. 76 in the nation, academically.
Judge Joy Reynolds and Judge Sue “Lady” Sloan are the names of the bears that currently live on campus, who were named after the former university first ladies. The pair are biological sisters born in 2001 and 2002. They have been on campus since they were cubs and will likely live out the rest of their lives there.
Apart from the pair of live bears on campus, Baylor also has a pair of costumed bears as well. Baylor first introduced a costumed bear in 1981 and their bears have seen a lot of changes over the years.
And just as time has advanced, so has the mascot’s design. Baylor has used the bear above in the 1980, then moved to on a green bear in the mid 1990s, then back to a brown bear in the early 2000s, even having the bear ride a motorcycle to match interests of then football head coach, Guy Morriss.
The schools has even used an inflatable mascot, named Judge, after one of the earlier live bears that the school featured.
His strengths were being adorable and being very flexible, while his weeknesses were sharp edges.
The current design, named Bruiser was introduced in the late 2000s. Bruiser can be seen roaming the sidelines and stands at Baylor games, wearing a Baylor uniform. The detail used in Bruiser is great, featuring a full mouth of teeth and green eyes.
While bears are typically seen as a menacing beast, I think that the design of Bruiser should lean a bit more away from menacing and should focus more on being a more kid-friendly bear.
In 2017, the school decided to introduce Marigold, which would become Bruiser’s partner.
Marigold has a headband of flowers.. wait…are those marigolds?!?! Those creative bastards! Like Bruiser, she features an open mouth, with a full set of teeth, but her canines are much smaller than her partners.
I think this is the wrong move, bears have sharp teeth, just because she is a female, doesn’t mean they should fully lean into the femininity of her design… c’mon Baylor it’s 2021. She has the headband, what more do you want from her?
How it started: How it’s going: pic.twitter.com/rfEkCGoZCC
— Baylor University (@Baylor) October 13, 2020
And I have to be honest, I really prefer the first mascot to the current design. The lush fur, the detailing the face…it looks like a real bear! A few updates, maybe to the paws and that would be a great bear mascot, in this day and age.
Normally you see schools refine their design as time goes by and they make leaps and bounds in their designs, but Baylor seems to have hit the nail right on the head in the 1980s…