gave the world Admiral Chester Nimitz, the navy's top fighting man
in World War II,
it was only fitting that the admiral's home in the Texas
Hill Country furnish a billy goat to replace Bill IX, the U.
S. Naval Academy mascot who died in August 1945.
First, if you've ever wondered how a goat came to be the Navy mascot,
you're not alone. Here's the story.
For centuries ships sailed with livestock on board. Ships in the
early British and American navies often carried goats as pets and
when necessary for dinner.
There is a legend that in the late 19th century an American navy
ship sailed with a pet goat. The goat died during the voyage, but
the sailors preserved the skin.
Back in port 2 young ensigns, on the way to the taxidermist with
the goat skin, stopped at the Naval Academy to watch a football
game. At halftime one of the ensigns dressed up in the goat skin
to entertain the crowd. Navy came from behind to win the game. That's
how Navy got its goat.
After that performance a series of Naval Academy mascots, all goats
named Bill, came from different parts of the country. Bill IX came
from a herd in San
When Bill IX died of old age in 1945, Navy officials, thinking a
goat from Admiral Nimitz's neck of the woods would be appropriate,
contacted Texas Governor Coke Stevenson for a replacement. With
that end in mind the governor met with a group of goat raisers in
on September 1, 1945 to begin separating the sheep from the goats.
The lucky goat would become Bill X - the official Navy mascot.
Several days later an elite group of goat men, including Governor
Stevenson (a real life goat raiser from Kimble
County), Adolph Stieler the goat king and a young Hondo Crouch,
gathered at a corral on Stieler Hill between Fredericksburg
Governor Stephenson personally made the selection - a majestic 75
lb. Angora. The press immediately dubbed the chosen one Chester.
that moment Ol' Chester had spent his life roaming the hills without
a care in the world - nibbling grass, climbing on things, head-butting
with his compadres and courting the ladies.
Suddenly this simple country goat was thrust into the national spotlight.
It was like winning the lottery.
But then Chester's luck ran out. On the trip to Annapolis he was
unceremoniously bumped from the airline by officials in Dallas.
Days went by. The Marsalis Zoo in Dallas
gave Chester a temporary home.
Finally a frustrated Governor Stevenson had no choice but to send
in the Texas Rangers - actually Ranger Joe Luther. Ranger Luther
took the goat by the horns, and the next day Chester and his escort
boarded the train for the east coast.
A large crowd of reporters met Chester at Union Station in Washington,
D.C. The next day Ranger Luther and a group of businessmen, politicians
and naval officials escorted Chester to his final destination in
Chester, now Bill X, seemed to enjoy being a celebrity. Then reality
Navy had done well on the gridiron in recent years. The football
team had a winning record every season since 1940, and more importantly,
had beaten Army every year but one.
Then hard times hit the Navy football program. The Midshipmen won
only 1 game in 1946. In 1947 the team won a single game, lost 7
and tied 1. What was worse, Navy had not beaten Army since Bill
Because the slid in Navy's football fortunes began with the arrival
of Bill X, he became the scapegoat for the Midshipmen's gridiron
As the 1947 Army game approached there was even a movement to replace
Bill X in the futile hope that a new mascot would propel Navy to
victory over Army.
Carrying that kind of responsibility is a heavy load.
Bill X died on November 21, 1947 - 8 days before the Army game.
I guess the possibility of another loss to Army was too much for
an old goat.