By Randy Fiedler
Since Baylor University first held a Homecoming celebration back in 1909, this cherished tradition has brought excitement, heroism and widespread good feeling to Waco. At the same time, Homecoming has been the source of pranks, humor, strange behavior and sometimes even tragedy.
What follows are some selected looks back at Baylor Homecoming events collected from the 100 years of its history.
Baylor’s first Homecoming celebration took place during Thanksgiving week in 1909. The railroads furnished special trains to bring in the thousands of alumni, and downtown Waco was decorated with the Baylor colors displayed on pennants, bunting and store window displays.
Homecoming began with a concert by the Baylor band the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 24, that featured a performance of “The Homecomers March,” written especially for the occasion by Baylor band director Charles Parker.
At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, all businesses in Waco that had an operating steam whistle were requested to blow them for three full minutes in a gesture of welcome to Baylor alumni. The noise was deafening.
Other events on Wednesday included an afternoon gathering featuring an address by Rev. George W. Truett, a Baylor alumnus, and an evening bonfire. As the flames soared skyward, Baylor’s male students circled around the bonfire in an imitation war dance, beating time with gongs and rattles.
The next day, Thursday, Nov. 25, was Thanksgiving Day. The first Baylor Homecoming Parade began at 2 p.m. in downtown Waco, led by the Baylor band in their white uniforms with their 6-foot-6-inch-tall drum major wearing a bearskin cap. Dr. I.L. McGlasson served as chief parade marshal, and he and other dignitaries as well as Baylor alumni followed the band in 60 decorated automobiles. Waco businessman R.T. Dennis had possibly the most striking car, as it was covered entirely in yellow chrysanthemums.
Student groups in automobiles and horse-drawn buggies followed, all vehicles decorated in Baylor colors. The entire procession extended for 25 blocks and ended at Carroll Science Building on campus.
About 5,000 people were on hand to see Baylor play Texas Christian University in the Homecoming football game. At the time, TCU was located across town in Waco, and the two schools had already met twice in football that year, TCU winning both contests. This time, however, Baylor beat TCU 6-3. The star of the game was Baylor quarterback and team captain T.P. “Robbie” Robinson, who scored Baylor’s lone touchdown. In those days, a touchdown counted for five points, and Robinson’s extra point gave Baylor its six-point total. Robinson’s mother attended Baylor at Independence, and his granddaughter, Kathy Robinson Hillman, now works for Baylor’s University Libraries.
There were no Baylor mascots at the football game or shouts of “Go Bears!” because Baylor would not choose the bear as its mascot until 1914.
During the early years, Baylor’s Homecoming celebration was not an annual event. The next official Homecoming after the 1909 event didn’t take place until 1915, when the University celebrated its 70th birthday. Once again, the celebrations took place during Thanksgiving week, and once again the football opponent was TCU, although by this time TCU had moved from Waco to Fort Worth.
The 1915 Homecoming Parade was the first at Baylor to feature floats. There were many inventive float designs that year –– one made to look like a football field, another designed as a tennis court with students playing a set of mixed doubles. Another float carried a large model of Old Main, while possibly the strangest float was one featuring the “steam piano,” two dozen Baylor boys wearing colored pipes for hats in imitation of the big steam pianos used by circuses.
The theme of the parade was Baylor’s move from Independence to Waco in 1886. One of the vehicles was a reproduction of the wagon that Baylor President Rufus Burleson used when he left Independence in 1861 to become president of Waco University. A special guest at Homecoming was Reddin Andrews, the last president of Baylor at Independence.
The 1915 Baylor Homecoming football game was more of a track meet. Baylor completely dominated TCU, winning by a score of 51-0 before 4,000 fans on Carroll Field.
Legendary Baylor Professor Guy B. Harrison remembered well an incident that took place during the 1919 Homecoming celebrations, which featured a game against the Bears’ traditional rivals, the TCU Horned Frogs.
Just before the football game, Harrison said Baylor students gathered in the parlor of Burleson Hall before a large casket decked out in purple and white, the TCU colors. Inside the casket lay the body of a dead horned frog, “freshly passed away.” Elaborate memorial services were held over the deceased reptile, after which Baylor students carried the tiny carcass to Carroll Field, where a burial took place behind one of the goalposts.
The ceremony might truly have worked, since Baylor ended up shutting out TCU, 7-0.
Baylor’s 1924 Homecoming football game was played Nov. 1 during Waco’s Texas Cotton Palace fair, which drew visitors from across Texas and other states. The game was played on the Cotton Palace gridiron, and the attendance of 25,000 was the largest crowd that had ever packed a football stadium in Waco up to that point.
Baylor’s opponent was Texas A&M, and the Aggies were led by legendary coach Dana X. Bible. During a hard-fought contest the Bears beat A&M, 15-7. The loss rubbed some Aggie students the wrong way, because after the final whistle all but about 200 members of the Texas A&M cadet corps left their seats and rushed the Baylor student body, apparently trying to gain revenge for the loss. There were reports of hitting and kicking, and some A&M students tried to steal Baylor colors. The disturbance was soon stopped by Waco police.
At a meeting held prior to the 1926 Homecoming game, the Baylor Chamber of Commerce formed an alumni association, choosing John S. Tanner as president and major league baseball star Ted Lyons as secretary.
Once again, Baylor’s Homecoming football game was played on Waco’s Cotton Palace field during the annual Texas Cotton Palace fair. New head coach Morley Jennings led the Bears, and once again the opponents were Coach Dana Bible’s Texas A&M Aggies, who had won the Southwest Conference championship the year before.
Unfortunately, there once again was friction between Baylor and A&M students during the game, but this time it took place during halftime. According to the account in the Lariat, at halftime an open Ford car filled to bursting with Baylor coeds was driven around the field. The girls were dressed in old-fashioned costumes and held placards showing all the scores from the previous Baylor-Texas A&M football games when the Bears had emerged victorious.
When the car approached the front of the Texas A&M grandstand, an Aggie corpsman “rushed out toward the car, jumped headlong upon the car striking the girls. One girl fell from the car and was wounded about the head –– other girls were injured though not seriously.”
The sight of an Aggie knocking a Baylor girl to the ground caused an immediate response. Students from both sides rushed to the car, and what the Lariat called a “fierce free-for-all fight” broke out, with Baylor and A&M students throwing metal folding chairs and other objects at each other. One of these chairs hit an Aggie corpsman, Lt. Charles Sessums, in the head. Baylor cheerleaders frantically tried to quiet down the crowd, but it was only when the Baylor band struck up “The Star Spangled Banner” that some degree of order was restored.
Baylor went on to win 20-9, but the aftermath of the fight at halftime was the game’s more enduring legacy. Lt. Sessums died of his injuries the next morning. Both school presidents made a joint statement deploring the incident, and A&M students steadfastly maintained that they had believed the Baylor girls in the car were actually men dressed as women, taunting the Aggies.
A petition quickly made the rounds of the Baylor campus, with more than 500 students signing the first day in favor of ending athletic relations with Texas A&M, with the Lariat supporting the idea in an editorial titled “Through!” A similar caucus of Aggie students revealed that they didn’t care one way or the other if the two schools ever played each other again.
Finally, on Dec. 8, 1926, the presidents of both schools issued another joint statement, this time announcing that they had agreed to temporarily suspend athletic relations between the two schools. They agreed not to compete against each other in any athletic events for four years, and it was not until 1931 that Baylor and A&M would meet again on a football gridiron.
Baylor’s most distinguished literary alumnus, novelist and folklorist Dorothy Scarborough, came to campus for Homecoming week 1927 and spoke to Dr. A.J. Armstrong’s English classes.
One thousand pounds of barbeque were prepared for the traditional Homecoming barbeque lunch that up to 2,000 people were expected to attend.
One of the players on the 1927 Homecoming football team was Weir Washam, the student whom football team captain James Clyde “Abe” Kelley had given his life to save from the oncoming train that killed 10 Baylor students in Round Rock the previous January, the students known today as the Immortal Ten.
In 1928, the Baylor band ordered new uniforms to replace their old ones, which featured green cloth with gold strips down the pants. The new uniforms, by contrast, were dazzling, with bright gold cloth and lots of green braid, including gold caps to match. One observer said the golden uniforms could be seen “for a mile.”
The plan was to debut the new uniforms at the 1928 Homecoming football game against Texas. However, by the time of the game, only 28 of the 50 uniforms had arrived from the manufacturer. The remaining 22 were being remade because of problems with a bad grade of cloth. So, the new golden uniforms didn’t make their debut until the Baylor-SMU game.
The spiffy new uniforms, of course, were the ones that would soon garner the Baylor band its new permanent identity as the “Golden Wave Marching Band.”
The 1932 Baylor Homecoming football game was the first time in six years that the Bears and the Texas Aggies had met on a gridiron in Waco. To make sure that the A&M students knew they were welcome in Waco, a group of six Baylor students, led by head yell leader Caso March, traveled to College Station a few days before the game to personally invite the Aggies to town.
The night before the Homecoming game, Baylor fans took part in the traditional pep rally and torchlight parade through downtown, and students guarded the campus against Aggie tomfoolery.
The day of the game, a special train pulled into Waco and disgorged 1,800 uniformed Aggie cadets, who made their way to the stadium. The game itself was a bit of an anticlimax –– another 0-0 tie. Special guests at the game were the players from the Baylor football team of 1922, the team that won Baylor’s first Southwest Conference championship. Also present was Miss Margaret McCollum, the very first sweetheart elected by the Baylor band.
Newly elected Baylor President Pat Neff did not get to attend Homecoming because of previous speaking engagements out of state. In a greeting he asked to be read to the Homecoming audience, Neff said, “Tell the students I am with them 100 per cent in their efforts to get acquainted with each other this week. In the years to come this acquaintance will prove itself to be their greatest pleasure and one of their most valuable assets.”
A famous portrait of poet Robert Browning painted by William Fisher was presented as a gift to Baylor’s Browning Collection at Homecoming 1933. It was a gift from the Class of 1937.
Junior Elaine Cross of Gatesville, representing the Senior Class, was voted by the student body as Baylor’s first “Homecoming Princess.” She was officially proclaimed at the Homecoming game against Texas A&M in a ceremony at halftime. Her escort, freshman football player Mitchell Parks, was on crutches after an injury he received in the previous week’s game against TCU.
At Homecoming 1935, a temporary tradition was begun of having the Homecoming Queen honor be given to the nominee of the winning parade float. The 1935 Queen was University Urbanites nominee Marguerite Joyce of Waco.
Two days before Baylor’s Homecoming football game against Texas A&M, the Aggies snuck on campus during the early morning hours and planted a number of pro-A&M signs while Baylor slept. They used red paint to make the campus flagpole into a barber pole and inscribed the score “A and M 50, Baylor 0” on the doors of Waco Hall in 10-foot-high letters. When chapel hour arrived later that morning, Baylor’s senior class staged a mock trial with a lawsuit against A&M for assault and battery. President Pat Neff told the group that if Baylor beat A&M on Saturday, there would be a full holiday for students the following Monday.
After that, the Homecoming celebrations were somewhat anticlimactic. A third straight day of almost constant heavy rain forced officials to cancel the Baylor Homecoming Parade on Saturday. And even though Baylor was able to play the Homecoming football game, its first contest ever in Waco’s new Municipal Stadium, the game was a muddy, slippery mess, with the Bears and the Aggies settling for a scoreless tie.
One of Baylor’s best athletes and most famous graduates, Chicago White Sox star Teddy Lyons, returned to campus for Homecoming. The famous pitcher was honored on Nov. 23 as the day was officially declared “Teddy Lyons Day” at Baylor. President Pat Neff presented Lyons with a gold plaque.
Homecoming in 1941, held just weeks before the Japanese surprise attack on Peal Harbor, was a time of giving gifts. The Baylor Chamber of Commerce presented the football team with a “water wagon,” which was purchased with the money raised from ribbon sales sponsored by the Chamber. The same day, a bronze bust of President Pat Neff sculpted by famous artist Pompeo Coppini, was presented to the Texas Collection "as a loving tribute" as a gift from the Alpha Omega Club. Coppini had earlier created two of Baylor’s most cherished campus landmarks –– the statue of Rufus Burleson on Burleson Quadrangle and the statue of Judge R.E.B. Baylor across the street from Waco Hall.
Visiting campus during Homecoming were 15 members of Baylor’s first aviation cadet unit. They arrived from Goodfellow Field in San Angelo with the full blessing of the Air Force.
In the only Baylor Homecoming Parade held while World War II raged, all of the vehicles and floats were required by the Baylor Chamber of Commerce to be pulled by horses and rubber tires were prohibited, in an effort to conserve gas and rubber for the war effort. To find appropriate transportation in what the Chamber dubbed the “Victory Parade,” Baylor students spent weeks searching Waco junk piles and stables and visiting area farms to secure buggies and horses.
The 1942 Homecoming Queen, Martha Alexander of Alvin, rode in her horse-drawn carriage dressed as a belle from the Old South and received a $25 war bond and a wristwatch for being selected.
After a tough game against the Texas A&M Aggies that featured the Baylor team “making so many goal line stands that the tax collector was about to go out and assess the Bears property tax down on their own 10-yard line,” Baylor scored a late touchdown and won, 6-0.
For three years, Baylor suspended official Homecoming observances because of World War II. There was some consideration of resuming Homecoming in the fall of 1945 since the war had just ended, but a vote of the faculty decided that due to crowded housing and lodging conditions in Waco and the fact that many alumni had not yet returned to the United States from wartime service abroad, Baylor would wait until 1946 to continue the tradition.
However, even though there was no official Homecoming Queen crowned in 1945, the Baylor Chamber of Commerce sponsored a contest to elect a football sweetheart. A huge pep rally on a “pre-war scale” was held in Marrs McLean Gym to introduce the 10 sweetheart candidates, and then Elaine “Rusty” Bush of Clinton, Wis., was chosen and presented during halftime of the game Baylor played against Doak Walker and the mighty SMU Mustangs. Bush received a diamond-studded wristwatch and a new fall suit of her choosing for being selected.
The 1946 Homecoming, the largest in Baylor history up to that point, was a special one, as the beloved tradition was renewed after a wartime hiatus. As part of the celebrations, a memorial service was held to honor the 125 Baylor men and women who gave their lives in service in World War II. Paul F. Geren, the dynamic 1936 Baylor graduate who wrote the popular book Burma Diary, delivered the principal address.
A dedication service also was held in Waco Hall for the new memorial lampposts on Founders Mall, honoring Baylor’s war dead. Families of the students honored were on hand for the service and were presented with leather-bound citations. At dedication time, 84 of the memorial lampposts had been erected, with 41 remaining to be put up.
The 1946 Homecoming Bonfire featured the burning of the timbers of the historic old rickety bridge that once spanned Waco Creek between Brooks Hall and the campus, which had been the favorite target of campus arsonists for years.
Baylor students guarding the new bear mascot, Chita, weren’t taking any chances before Homecoming. Several nights before the celebrations began, they placed Chita in the custody of Waco police to protect her from possible molesting by marauding Texas A&M Aggies.
Demonstrating the quickness of Baylor’s campus news operation, a special football “extra” edition of the Daily Lariat was issued 30 minutes after the end of the 1947 Homecoming game against TCU.
Special guests at the 1949 Homecoming included three distinguished Baylor alums –– U.S. Sen. Tom Connally of Texas, Texas Attorney General Price Daniel and major league baseball star Ted Lyons.
In what would be Baylor’s final Homecoming football game played in Waco’s Municipal Stadium, the Bears beat TCU 40-14.
The day after the win over TCU, the Baylor football team was invited by employees of Waco’s Owens-Illinois glass plant to enjoy 600 pounds of barbequed buffalo meat. Baylor Coach Bob Woodruff at first was hesitant to let the players eat barbeque in the middle of the week, but relented, saying, “It might toughen ‘em up for Texas” the following week.
As they had so many times, students from Texas A&M University were busy in the weeks before their big Homecoming showdown in Waco against Baylor. Aggie students broke into the Bear Pit and made off with Baylor’s two young bear mascots, Barney and Bailey, in an automobile. Within a few hours Bailey was discovered trying to get back into his pen, and Barney was returned later “after scratching up the six Aggie Bandsmen in the raiding party.” The Aggies had wrapped Barney in burlap and taken him to College Station, where he was confined in a dorm room and “clawed his captors vigorously,” prompting his return to Waco.
The Aggies also snuck on the Baylor campus one morning to paint “Beat the Hell out of Baylor” on automobiles and street paving, and snuck into the new Baylor Stadium, then under construction, to plant oats in the gridiron grass in an attempt to have the sprouting plants spell out the letters “A and M.” Baylor President W.R. White called the Aggie students’ pranks “just an expression of school spirit,” and told Baylor students, “The only kind of retaliation we want is that which will be shown on the scoreboard Saturday.”
Baylor was not going to let the little matter of construction on its new Baylor Stadium not being completed spoil plans to hold the 1950 Homecoming football game there. Only 37,000 of the total 49,000 seats in the stadium were completed at game time, but that was sufficient to handle the record crowd of 34,000 that saw Baylor beat A&M, 27-20, for the third time in a row.
The woman who served as Baylor’s 1952 Homecoming Queen, Pat Barfield, proved to be a good choice.
Later in 1952, Barfield beat out 100 other American homecoming queens in a nationwide contest sponsored by the United States Eighth Army, in which the troops serving in Korea chose her as “The Homecoming Queen We'd Most Like To Come Home To.” Thousands of letters addressed to Barfield eventually poured in from Korea and across the U. S., sometimes 50 a day, and she had to enlist the Baylor Public Relations office as well as her friends to help her answer them. Besides being featured in a number of advertisements, the popular Barfield was chosen as a Baylor Beauty and also earned the titles of Queen of the 1952 Baylor Rodeo, the Rose of Delta Sigma Pi fraternity, and “Miss Trainee” of the 17th Division at Fort Hood.
The 1952 Homecoming football game attracted some national attention. First of all, photographers from Life and Look magazines, as well as from national newsreels and WBAP-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth, were on hand to record the first appearance of Baylor’s new card section. Three thousand 11x14 cards had been ordered, and were displayed in different combinations by 720 Baylor students sitting in the stands to produce large words and images.
Unexpected national attention also came after one of the Baylor bear mascots, Topsy, picked up a penalty flag thrown down by a referee during the Homecoming game and would not turn it loose until the game was over. The story of the “fabled fabric” was carried by the Associated Press and printed in newspapers across the country. Topsy was so famous, in fact, that he even got his photo taken with Pat Barfield.
Fans who attended the 1953 Baylor Homecoming football game had to contend with temperatures that dropped as low as 52 degrees. In its coverage of the game, the Waco Times-Herald noticed that the Homecoming Queen and her court braved the cold in their dresses, only one of them resorting to adding a warm parka to her ensemble.
Members of Baylor’s 1923 Southwest Conference champion baseball team were honored guests at the game and watched from the sidelines at the football game. Also present on the sidelines was 19-year-old polio victim Clint Floyd of Kerens, Texas, a special guest who watched the game with the aid of a portable iron lung.
Sometime between the Wednesday night and Thursday morning of Homecoming Week 1954, Baylor’s young mascot, Nip, disappeared from a local veterinary hospital were the bear cub was being treated for acute gastritis. Also missing was Nip’s cage trailer.
Officials at Texas A&M, Baylor’s Homecoming opponent, assured Baylor officials that they were unaware of any bear cub being taken to College Station. There was no word on where Nip was until the Waco veterinarian received a mysterious telephone call Thursday night, telling him that the cub would be returned during the next 24 hours. Sure enough, Nip was discovered the next day inside his trailer under a bridge on the highway to Bryan, both the bear and the trailer painted red.
The Tidwell Bible Building was dedicated the Friday of Homecoming in a ceremony featuring a dedicatory address by Baylor President W.R. White. The building, which had taken almost 20 years of work by many people to plan and fund, was the dream of the late Dr. J.B. Tidwell, one of Baylor’s most beloved religion professors.
As Homecoming 1956 approached, hotel and motel rooms in Waco were all quickly reserved for the big weekend. Baylor officials made a public appeal to Waco citizens, asking them to consider renting spare bedrooms to Homecoming visitors from out of town to handle the crush.
Every now and then a big rumor sweeps a college campus, and during Homecoming week a rumor made the rounds that overzealous Baylor boys guarding the campus from the Aggies had been put in jail. But the rumor turned out to be just that –– a rumor.
At Homecoming, another famous painting of poet Robert Browning –– this one done in 1881 by Browning’s son, Robert Wiedemann “Pen” Browning, was on display at Armstrong Browning Library for the first time. It had been donated to Baylor by a California woman earlier in the year.
The 1956 Baylor Homecoming football game almost didn’t happen. Just a few days before the game, all but 10 of the Baylor players came down with food poisoning. By game time the Baylor players were ready to go, but the Bears ended up losing to A&M, 19-13.
Pigskin Revue made its debut at the 1958 Baylor Homecoming. It was established by Marie Mathis, director of the Student Union Building and the person who had founded All University Sing five years earlier. Mathis saw Pigskin as a way to increase the quality of Sing acts and showcase winners from the previous year’s performance.
In the Homecoming Parade members of the 1948 Baylor basketball team, which won the Southwest Conference and was the NCAA national runner-up, were the featured guests. Team member Jackie Robinson, who also represented the United States in basketball in the 1948 Olympics, was one of those in attendance. Also riding in the parade was Texas Gov. Price Daniel, a Baylor alumnus.
During the Homecoming football game against Texas A&M a Baylor alumnus, Brian Hooks of Oklahoma City, suffered a heart attack in the opening moments of the game. His wife and others called for help, and respondents used oxygen from the Baylor football team’s portable tank to treat him, a move that was credited with saving his life.
Members of Baylor’s 1922 football team, the first Bear squad to win the Southwest Conference championship, were the special guests at Homecoming celebrations. Weta Timmons, Baylor’s first female yell leader who cheered for the 1922 team, was also a special guest. She was introduced at a pep rally but declined to lead any cheers, explaining that college yells had changed a bit since her day. Timmons did ride in the parade along with the 1922 team.
Members of the Baylor Ex-Debaters Association took time during Homecoming to present debate coach Glenn Capp with a new car, honoring his 25 years of service to Baylor. Capp said it was the first good car he’d ever owned, and that he will use to drive students to speech tournaments.
During the Homecoming parade a fire broke out on a Baylor float that featured a space rocket with the message "Orbit The Aggies." No one was injured, and the parade continued after firemen extinguished the blaze.
Crowds gathered at Homecoming for the groundbreaking of one of Baylor’s most anticipated buildings, Moody Memorial Library, the successor to the 64-year old Carroll Library.
The day of the Homecoming football game against Texas A&M was a warm one, and during the game four people ended up at the Baylor Stadium first aid station with reported heart attacks, blamed on the warm afternoon and the excitement of the game. A Waco attorney and a Baylor professor both collapsed at the game and were reported in satisfactory condition later in the day at Hillcrest Hospital. The two other people were taken to Hillcrest and were treated and released. After the first victim fell early in the second quarter, stadium announcer George Stokes implored the fans, “Settle down, we’re having a hard day.” He remarked later, “The Red Cross nurses didn’t see one down of the game.”
And the game itself? When all was said and done, the Aggies ended up winning, 17-13.
Members of the Nose Brotherhood, who had been banned from campus and hadn’t been seen at Baylor functions for a year or so, were spotted at both Pigskin Revue and the Homecoming Parade.
For the first time since Miss Weta Timmons served a season as a Baylor yell leader back in 1922, women were allowed to serve as Baylor yell leaders starting in the fall of 1968, following a vote of the student body earlier in the year. The three female yell leaders on duty during the 1968 Homecoming football game were Patsy Foster, Peggy Pate and Mary Matthews.
In the 1971 Baylor Homecoming football game, the Bears once again faced their longtime rivals, the Horned Frogs of TCU. Early in the first quarter of the game, TCU quarterback Steve Judy looked to the sidelines for instructions, and saw first-year TCU head coach Jim Pittman laying on the ground. Judy hurriedly called a timeout and rushed to his coach’s side.
The 46-year-old Pittman was a survivor of three previous heart attacks, and he’d just had his fourth on the sidelines of Baylor Stadium. Unable to revive him, medical attendants took Pittman out of the stadium on a stretcher. The young coach was pronounced dead soon afterward at Providence Hospital.
Word of Pittman’s death was transmitted to the TCU assistant coaches with about 8 minutes left in the first half. They intended not to tell the team until halftime, but team members overheard the news. The TCU team rallied from tragedy to pull ahead of Baylor late in the game and won, 34-27.
Surprisingly, Pittman was not the only TCU official to experience medical problems during the game. Only minutes before Pittman’s collapse, TCU assistant athletic director Buster Brannon collapsed in the Baylor Stadium press box and was rushed to Providence Hospital. Brannon was treated and released a few minutes after his head coach had been pronounced dead in the same hospital.
At Homecoming 1972, the men's Freshman Mass Meeting and the women's Freshman Mass Meeting, which previously had been separate events, were combined. From then on, Freshman Mass Meeting would be coed.
In the week before the Homecoming game against Texas A&M, someone dyed the water in the Fountain Mall fountain red, and left a sign nearby that read “Aggie Blood.”
The 1972 Homecoming football game was the first Baylor Homecoming contest overseen by new Bears coach Grant Teaff. It was also the first Homecoming game played on Baylor Stadium’s new AstroTurf field, which had been installed the previous summer. Baylor beat the Aggies, 15-13.
At the 1973 Baylor Homecoming pep rally, Caso March, a 1933 Baylor yell leader, demonstrated one-arm pushups, and Delta Alpha Pi put on a skit about football Coach Grant Teaff and his coaches called “Cinderbear.”
The 1973 Homecoming Parade ended up getting some unexpected national news coverage. Well before Homecoming, Baylor Law School alumnus Leon Jaworski had been named parade grand marshal. Jaworski had enjoyed a distinguished legal career, prosecuting Nazi war criminals after World War II, representing Vice President Lyndon Johnson in legal cases, serving as a counsel to the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy and serving a term as president of the American Bar Association.
The Watergate scandal surrounding President Nixon was in the forefront of the news in the fall of 1973, and two days before he was to appear in the Baylor Homecoming Parade, Jaworski was appointed special Watergate prosecutor by Nixon, succeeding the recently fired Archibald Cox.
So, when Jaworski arrived in Waco to lead the Baylor parade, he had spent the previous two days in the glare of the media lights. Asked why he didn’t stay in Washington that weekend, Jaworski told the Lariat, “I put Baylor very high on my priority list. I had committed myself to the parade several months ago, and I decided this (new job) wouldn’t stop me from coming.”
The Noze Brotherhood took advantage of Jaworski’s newfound celebrity by following his car in the parade, holding up a sign asking spectators to “Clap if you think he’s guilty,” referring, presumably, to the embattled President Nixon.
The Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center on University Parks Drive was dedicated during Homecoming.
During Baylor Homecoming 1977 the Steve Hudson Bear Plaza was dedicated. It was named in honor of the late Steve Hudson, who attended Baylor from 1966-1971. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Doug Hudson of Harrison, Ark., who donated $50,000 of the new facility’s total cost of $125,000. The improved home for Baylor’s bear mascots was three times as roomy as the previous one. Its first residents were the black bears Kelli, a two-year-old, and Judge, a four-year-old.
On the Friday of Homecoming 1979, freshmen in the Baylor Line were busy building the traditional bonfire pyre when a group of sophomores captured the spirit flame (a construction torch painted green) and attempted to light the bonfire early. To try and prevent this, the Baylor Line members formed a human circle around the bonfire, but somehow after several attempts the sophomores were successful in igniting the piled wood, although the fire was quickly extinguished.
Fire also played a role in the Homecoming Parade. A huge float resembling a whale entered by the Taurus Society won the grand prize, but was destroyed after the parade while parked on Fountain Mall by what the RoundUp later called a “disputed fire.”
For the first time ever, Baylor’s Homecoming celebration in 1984 featured “Extravaganza,” a party for the entire Baylor family sponsored by the Baylor Chamber of Commerce. The event included bands playing downtown at the Suspension Bridge in Waco’s Indian Spring Park.
For the first time, the five-year-old group known as the Baylor Black Alumni Club sponsored a Homecoming dinner and dance, in recognition of the 75th anniversary of Baylor Homecoming. Guests included Barbara Ann Walker (BA ’67), the first black woman to graduate from Baylor.
During their 1985 Homecoming meeting, Baylor trustees indefinitely shelved plans to build a special events center after receiving cost estimates much higher than expected. (The Ferrell Special Events Center would eventually be built and opened in 1988).
Among the most noticeable special guests riding in the Homecoming Parade in 1985 were Texas Gov. Mark White and Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox, both Baylor Law School graduates.
During Pigskin Revue, Houston secondary education major Beth Nance was announced as Baylor’s 1986 Homecoming Queen. Nance had been diagnosed with bone cancer in her leg and had to endure bone replacement surgery and a year and a half of chemotherapy treatments. When she accepted the Homecoming Queen honor on the stage of Waco Hall, the only visible sign of her cancer was that she stood on the left side of her escort instead of the right and depended on him for support, since she had not regained her full strength since a recent surgery.
The night after the Homecoming football game with Arkansas (which Baylor won 29-14), a special musical and dramatic presentation titled “So Long, Sweet Century” was performed. Part of the celebration of Baylor’s 100th year in Waco, the musical showed the spirit and the life of Baylor during the previous century. It was performed by Baylor Showtime! and was written and directed by Baylor graduate Buryl Red, an internationally acclaimed composer and musical artist.
During halftime of the 1988 Homecoming football game with Arkansas, it was announced that Mr. and Mrs. Carl Casey of Dallas had made an initial gift of $5 million to expand and refurbish Baylor Stadium. It was also announced that the 38-year-old Baylor Stadium would be renamed Floyd Casey Stadium in honor of Mr. Casey’s father.
Over Homecoming weekend, a newly renovated lecture hall in Marrs McLean Science Building was dedicated to beloved physics professor Bob Packard. It was given the name “Robert G. Packard Hall,” with funds for the renovation having been provided by the Carlile family of Marshall, Texas.
On the night of Nov. 10, comedian Bill Cosby performed before a capacity Homecoming crowd at the Ferrell Center.
During Grant Teaff’s final Homecoming game as Baylor football coach, the Bears beat Georgia Tech, 31-27.
Dedication ceremonies were held for both the Sesquicentennial Walkway in Burleson Quadrangle and Clifton Robinson Tower.
Texas Gov. George W. Bush served as grand marshal of the Baylor Homecoming Parade.
Professor George Stokes, the man sometimes called “The Voice of Baylor” for his decades of work as the public address announcer at Baylor football games and as master of ceremonies for All University Sing and Pigskin Revue, did the Pigskin emcee duties for one final time in 1998 before retiring.
At Homecoming 1998 a large crowd of Baylor alumni were on hand to help dedicate the newly renovated Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center on University Parks Drive. The staff of the Baylor Alumni Association had moved back into the building just before the start of the fall 1998 semester.
The coverage of the 1998 Baylor Homecoming Parade by KWBU was simulcast for the first time ever on the Internet.
During the parade, the goal posts that jubilant students had torn down and carried back to campus after the Bears’ upset win over Texas the previous fall were carried through the streets of Waco by Baylor students. The gesture didn’t help the Bears during their Homecoming game hours later against Kansas State, however, as Baylor lost 49-6.
Baylor’s first new on-campus residential facility built in more than 35 years, the North Village Residential Community, was dedicated at Homecoming.
During its Homecoming meeting, the Baylor Board of Regents approved amendments to the University’s articles of incorporation that provided for reducing the size of the board from 36 members to 16 members over a nine-year period.
Before hundreds of students, alumni and donors on campus for Homecoming, Baylor officially dedicated the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat Complex, the newly expanded and renovated facility that houses Baylor's North American black bear mascots. Compared to the bears' previous home, the William complex added nearly twice the amount of square footage as well as a more natural environment for mascots Joy and Lady that features a waterfall, pools, caves, deadfall trees and digging areas.
The route of the Baylor Homecoming Parade was shortened and the parade was moved to an earlier time to accommodate the 11:30 a.m. start of the televised Baylor-Texas Tech game. Possibly the most striking float in the parade was one featuring Baylor men painted and posing to resemble the proposed statue of the Immortal Ten.
During Homecoming 2007, Baylor formally dedicated both Brooks Village, made up of Brooks Residential Flats and Brooks Residential College, and the Immortal Ten memorial, created by renowned western sculptor Bruce Greene.
The annual Homecoming Bonfire took place on Fountain Mall after being held the previous two years near the Ferrell Center. Alumni had requested that the bonfire be moved back to a more central location on campus.
In the early morning hours before the Homecoming Parade, Kappa Alpha Theta’s float was struck by two different automobiles, the first apparently driven by a hit-and-run driver. No one in the float was injured, but the float was too damaged to be used in the parade.
At their Homecoming 2008 meeting, Baylor Regents announced that the University had received a significant naming gift from Baylor alumni Jay and Jenny Reid Allison of Frisco, Texas, for the Jay and Jenny Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility, which would complete the Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletic Complex.
A number of special dedications took place during Homecoming –– for official Texas Historical Markers honoring both the Texas Collection and Carroll Library, and for the stained glass Vallombrosa Window in the Cox Reception Hall of Armstrong Browning Library in memory of beloved English professor Ann Miller.
Some time early in the morning of the Friday before the 2008 Homecoming Parade, vandals destroyed the Alpha Chi Omega sorority’s float at the location off campus where it was being stored. “It looked like someone took a sledgehammer to it,” one member said. The story of the float’s destruction was aired locally on KWTX-TV, and a group of volunteers, including members of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce and the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, worked around the clock to help the group rebuild the float by the start of the parade. And that, I think you’ll agree, demonstrates the true spirit of Baylor and its Homecoming celebration.
Research sources include: Waco Times-Herald, Waco Tribune-Herald, Waco News-Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Baylor Lariat, Baylor RoundUp.