The History of Baylor's Sailor Bear December 30, 2014 09:15

We love Baylor's Sailor Bear logo.  How can you not?  There's something tough, yet charming about the Sailor Bear.  The Sailor Bear has much more personality and character than any other logo in Baylor's history.

We always wondered how this logo came about!  So, we did a little digging, and here's what we found.

The history of the Sailor Bear is a little sketchy.  

Some reports say that the Sailor Bear was created after Liz Baylor herself had an incident with a mascot bear on Lake Waco and that the mascot started somewhere around 1912 and continued until 1943.  Supposedly, the mascot was dropped when a German U-Boat that attacked trans-Atlantic ships carried the Baylor mascot stenciled on its side next to the Nazi swastika.  A photo of this appeared in the New York Afternoon Democrat in May of 1943.  Apparently, this caused some problems and there were questions surrounding the relationship between the Nazis and Baylor University.  This part cracks me up.  Unless some crazy conspiracy exists, there was absolutely no relationship between Baylor and the Nazis.  Apparently the Nazis liked great design!

Other histories say that the logo was designed somewhere around 1951 or 1952.  The bear was part of a national college bookstore promotion by Angelus Pacific Printing Company.  The logo was one of many spec logos designed for hundreds of colleges and universities. 

The designer of these spec logos was Arthur Evans, a famous illustrator and former Disney Employee.  The basic logo was some version of whatever the university's mascot was.  The beanie was put on top of the mascot so Angelus could easily switch the school monogram and colors to match the school.  

The bear was designed for several universities, including Baylor!  You now see the basic Sailor Bear design with Brown University and Cal, and Cornell.

So, basically, nobody knows, but you can come up with some great stories about the history.  

Did Liz Baylor really try to drown a bear in Lake Waco?  Who knows!

Did the Nazis really use this logo on a U-Boat?  If so, how did they get ahold of it?  

Did Arthur Evans take the original abandoned design and use it for Angelus?  Possibly.  Why would you not.  It is a timeless design.

Whatever the history may be, the Sailor Bear lives on with Baylor fans around the globe. 

Update:

Thanks to Paula Marshall, an Academic Advisor at Baylor, we have received some interesting trivia regarding the Baylor Sailor Bear.

Paula's mother received a Sailor Bear patch from a Baylor football player in 1950 (The one pictured above). It is an exact replica of the Michigan mascot of the same era only with a "B" in place of the "M" on the cap. Paula's mother explained to her that the Sailor Bear was changed the next year to the one we know today. What do y'all think of the Baylor Sailor Wolverine Bear?

Paula also shared with us a few of the Baylor logos she has displayed in her office.

Thank you Paula!

The Baylor Sailor Bear Vintage Trucker Hat

The Baylor Sailor Bear Hat - Gunmetal Grey

The Baylor Sailor Bear Contrast Hat - White