Bear Down You Bears

November 30, 2009
In a Chamber-sponsored competition during the fall of 1940, Baylor student organizations wrote letters to famous musicians, asking them to compose a fight song for Baylor. Brothers Fred and Tom Waring agreed to do so. They wrote "Bear Down Baylor Bears," which was performed by the Pennsylvanians on the Warings' live national NBC radio broadcast ("The Chesterfield Pleasure Time Radio Show") on December 20, 1940. The song was used until 1947, when Baylor students Dick Baker, BA '50, and Frank Boggs, BA '48, decided they weren't satisfied with it.
"It was horribly hard to sing, and nobody knew the words. Students just stood there when we played it at games, like wooden Indians," says Boggs. And so, the roommates took it upon themselves to write a new fight song, one that would get students more excited and involved.
Though the two have differing memories of exactly where the song was written, (either in Mrs. A.E. Hill's living room on 9th or 10th Street, where Boggs and Baker lived, or in a practice hall where Armstrong Browning Library now stands), Baker and Boggs are certain that they wrote it on a particularly quiet weekend on campus; many folks were in Lubbock at the Baylor vs. Texas Tech football game on October 18, 1947.
"We talked about how upset we were that Baylor didn't have a great fight song like Notre Dame, like Michigan or USC," Boggs recollects, "and I remember that we said, 'Why don't we write one that's easy and good?' And we did it, just like that. It wasn't a big deal."
"I ripped off the first phrase or two, and he took up the next phrase and we put that thing together rather quickly," says Baker. "It is interesting that during the days that we were here, it was the big days of the youth revival, and we write a fight song."
"It shows you that we had our ethics in line," deadpans Boggs. "We were interested in the right things."
The two agree the song was officially introduced outside of old Brooks Hall near Minglewood Bowl. Boggs says that the Baylor bandleader loved it, and he orchestrated unveiling the song, making copies of the words and passing them out to students.
"The yell leaders took it from there, and Bob Feather in particular was really pushing to introduce the song to the students," recalls Baker. "Someone rolled out a piano, and we sang it together for the first time."
In the years since, some confusion existed over who wrote the current fight song. To show that the record has been set straight, at Homecoming, Baker and Boggs, with families in tow, reunited to be honored at the football game and at Singspiration for their timeless contribution to the Baylor spirit.
"We were just amazed that they decided to use it [in 1947]," says Baker, "and I hardly believe today that it's still being used."
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