by Mike Cox
The University of Texas' longhorn mascot
of the more bizarre events in Texas collegiate history took place in Austin
on a January night in 1920.|
The occasion was a tribute to Bevo, the University
of Texas' longhorn
mascot. More than 200 "wearers of the T" and their guests attended a feed at the
men's gymnasium in the steer's honor.
The UT football team had been called
the Longhorns since 1904, but another 12 years went by before an orange-blooded
alum (class of '11) decided the school needed a flesh-and-blood longhorn stomping
around on the sidelines during football games.
Steve Pinckney, referred
to in one newspaper account as "the grandfather of the Longhorn
steer," collected $1 from 124 UT graduates to buy the brute. The transaction occurred
in the Panhandle, where the seller
loaded the longhorn onto a cattle car for shipment to Austin.
This longhorn already had an impressive history. The steer had been captured
by a posse of Texans in a raid on Mexican cattle rustlers near Juarez in the fall
of 1916. Presumably, the animal had been stolen from the Texas
side of the river some time prior to his repatriation.
Pinckney presented the well-traveled steer to the UT student body on Thanksgiving
Day 1916. The two-legged Longhorns went on to defeat Texas A&M 21-7, avenging
a 13-0 loss to the Aggies the year before.|
For a time there was talk
of branding the steer with a big T and the numbers 21-7, but the notion was overridden
as cruel. The holidays came and went and then it was February. On the morning
of Feb. 11, 1917 the owner of the stockyard where the longhorn was kept made a
startling discovery: Intruders, presumably Aggies, had slipped up on the penned
mascot and used a red hot running iron to sear the 13-0 score from 1915 on the
The steer's embarrassed student handlers, in turn, soon
came up with a clever way to save face for their school, though it was a little
hard on their mascot. The UT partisans converted the 13 into a B, the hyphen into
an e and inserted a V in front of the zero. That spelled Bevo, the brand name
of a popular near beer.
But that was all history three years later when
UT students and supporters gathered to honor their twice-branded mascot, now well
known as Bevo.
Charles W. Ramsdell, master of ceremonies at the event, introduced Dr. Robert
E. Vinson, president of UT. Vinson went on to give a flag-waving oration concerning
"the qualities of the true American citizen."
Though the university faculty
was doing its best, in Vinson's judgment civilization "thus far has failed to
develop to the fullest the three essentials of true manhood and womanhood - the
spirit, the mind, and the body."
As perhaps only a highly educated academician
could do, the UT president came up with a way to claim that Bevo "typified all
three qualities." Dropping the bull metaphor, he concluded his remarks with the
assertion that "education should broaden the student in all three essentials."
Next to speak was Pinckney, who related the steer's colorful pedigree. He
was followed by Tom Inglehart, Bevo's custodian for the past three years. Finally,
aptly named Alfred Bull stood to tell how Bevo got his name.
the celebrants were treated to rope tricks, a wild Indian act and music. Where
was Bevo while all the speechifying in his honor went on? Well, to paraphrase
the modern beef industry, Bevo...he's what's for dinner.
in the next day's Austin newspaper pretty
well summed it up: "Famous Longhorn Steer Is Eaten By Varsity Students: Bevo of
Fond, But Sometimes Unpleasant, Memories, Served At Barbeque."
story went on to say that the demise of the steer (why Bevo was available to barbecue
was not explained) marked the end of a tradition, which just goes to show the
importance of not believing everything you read in the newspapers.
I's descendant, Bevo XIII currently reigns as one of college football's most notable
mascots. But so far as is known, the gathering that winter evening in 1920 marked
the only time Bevo ended up in a barbecue pit.
© Mike Cox
Tales" January 20, 2004 column