Circus' Loss is Baylor's Gain (1982)

Original artwork from Ray Franks' "What's in a Name?"

A brief selection from Ray Franks' What's in a Name? (1982)


 Once upon a time, in the late 1920s, there was a bear. The bear was a friendly sort of fellow but he was also very mischievous and a big eater. So the traveling circus that owned the bear decided it didn't want him anymore and abandoned him on the steps of an old corner drug store as they left town. 

The bear was not without friends for long though. A young Baylor University student, Bill Boyd, claimed the animal and worked out a deal with the university's president, Pat Neff, to take care of the bear and feed him as the school's mascot in exchange for free tuition. This first mascot, Joe College, began a tradition of live bears at Baylor that has endured ever after. 

Every two years, the university gets a new bear because they grow too big and hard to control. Most of the mascots are North American black bears, a species that seems to adapt better to people. All bears are kept at Hudson Bear Plaza near the Baylor Student Union. Now a school tradition, the bears are sponsored by the Baylor Chamber of Commerce, a service fraternity on campus.

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