A quick look at Baylor’s bear logos through the years
No, that’s not a real “Sailor Bear” Baylor football helmet pictured above; a lifelong BU fan named Matt Carver mocked that up in 2012 just for fun. In fact, in the program’s 110+ seasons, the Bears’ helmets have never featured a bear of any kind — only the interlocking BU.
But that hasn’t stopped Baylor Bear logos from showing up in countless other places. If you’re reading this in your home or office, there’s a decent chance you can look around and spot something with a Baylor Bear on it. From pictures to pennants and shirts to stickers, Baylor family members love displaying their school pride with a Baylor Bear logo on almost anything. But… those Bears might look a little different from one another. You might have a shirt with the current bear logo, or Sailor Bear, or some other version of the logo.
There’s no definitive guide to exactly how many bear logos have been used since the bear became Baylor’s official mascot in 1914, and a quick Google Image search reveals quite a few Baylor Bears we recognize (plus a few that seem less than official).
So, how many Baylor Bear logos have there been over the years?
To answer that, we went to Baylor’s Texas Collection, the university library and archive that preserves photos, materials and more from throughout Baylor’s history. Sylvia Hernandez, BS ’08, project archivist of the Athletics Archive, says that the official logos they have on file first started appearing in the 1950s and ’60s. From early versions to the current, see which ones you recognize:
The first Bear directly above is popularly known as Sailor Bear — a popular retro logo today, though limited in its modern use. Here’s why: In the 1950s — when college football was truly regional, and few fans saw logos for teams outside their region — a former Disney employee named Arthur Evans visited colleges across the country, offering to draw logos for them. One of them was Sailor Bear — which he created not just for Baylor, but for almost any school that had a Bear mascot. (He did the same with other animals; for instance, this tiger, used by LSU, Auburn, Missouri and others.) This 1952 pennant is the first known appearance of Baylor’s version of this bear.
Next up: Growling Bear, the most life-like of any Baylor logo. This mark debuted in 1969 after then-head football coach Bill Beall held a contest to find a new logo, but is most often associated with the Grant Teaff/Mike Singletary era that followed. It was created by classics professor Elmer Fisher, BA ’51, and law student Joey Taylor, BA ’68, JD ’71. (It’s also the mark on this year’s official Gameday t-shirt, available at the Baylor Bookstore.)
Then there’s Fuzzy Green Bear — also known as “Swamp Bear,” “Radioactive Bear,” and a few other names probably not suitable for print here. Introduced in 1997 to much fanfare, it was created by sports logo giant SME Branding, whose clients include the New York Yankees, Alabama Crimson Tide and Kentucky Derby. Alas, even the best hitters don’t bat 1.000; in 2000, Baylor’s Student Congress voted to recommend a change, and it was replaced five years later.
Last but not least, there’s Today’s Bear — the Baylor logo officially used today, which took the place of the Green Bear in 2005. This logo has witnessed more athletic success than any previous version, and its perpetual “sic ’em” is raised in celebration of the dozens of conference championships and five national titles earned under its banner.
And those are just the official Bears… There are also the many unofficial designs, the most famous being this cartoon bear (often used in Baylor Athletic Department programs and ads in the 1950s and 1960s) and Dirk West’s Southwest Conference cartoons of the 1960s-70s (an example of which can be seen here).
Chances are you prefer one of these over the others — and chances are good that the person sitting next to you at McLane Stadium favors a different Bear. Regardless of your choice, they all serve to remind us of our affinity for Baylor!
Sic ’em, Baylor Bears!