• The story behind the Carroll Field sign in the Baylor SUB

    In the early 1900s, Baylor’s first athletic field was Lee Carroll Field. It was a simple dirt and grass field, located behind Carroll Science Hall where Vara Martin Daniel Plaza and the Bill Daniel Student Center now stand. And above the entrance to this historical field was the arch pictured above.

    Just in time for Homecoming, that sign has been pulled out of storage, repainted and given new life inside the SUB.

    Lee Carroll Athletic Field was home to several intercollegiate Baylor sports teams from 1902-40. Originally funded by a $1,000 pledge from Baylor freshman Lee Carroll and a subsequent $600 fundraising campaign by the university, it encompassed an area from Carroll Science Hall to Waco Creek and from Fifth Street to Seventh Street and featured a football field, a baseball diamond and a track. It was the site of numerous athletic events, ranging from intercollegiate competitions in football, baseball, track and basketball to intramural contests involving both female and male students. The arch was added after the 1922 football season, when the Bears were named Southwest Conference champions for the first time.

    In 1940, groundbreaking for the Bill Daniel Student Center — also known as the SUB — began, replacing the field and moving sporting events to Waco Municipal Stadium. The arch was placed in storage and remained hidden from view for decades.

    The idea to reintroduce the Baylor community to the historic sign came about after the opening of McLane Stadium. Matt Burchett, BA ’01, director of student activities, says that he and others realized many students were unaware of Carroll Field’s history. They wanted to do something to change that.

    “We started this process a few years back, and the first step was to identify how to keep most of the original sign intact and tell our story in a way that’s true to our history,” Burchett told the Baylor Lariat. “We were all able to share a vision about it, especially after we built McLane and heard students talk about how football is finally on campus, but we were actually coming back to campus. We realized that we never told the story of Carroll Field, which gave us a unique opportunity to share about the significant moments that happened on that piece of property.”

    Carroll (BBA ’76) and Colleen Fitzgerald provided generous support for the restoration of the Championship Arch and refurbishment of Traditions Square within Vara Martin Daniel Plaza. Carroll, a former yell leader, was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Student Foundation as a Baylor student. The Senior Class of 2018 and Student Government also contributed toward the restoration project.

    Sic ’em, Bears!

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    * 15 Baylor & Waco landmarks that are gone, but not forgotten (May 2018)

    [Photo credit: Liesje Powers, Baylor Lariat Multimedia Editor]