Best yet

I have just finished reading the latest issue of the Baylor Magazine and I felt compelled to write to you. I hope this is the correct place to send this note.

I have read the Baylor Magazine for a good many years and I must say that this issue is the BEST I have ever read. If not the best, it surely ranks in the top two or three issues. This issue covered such a wide variety of topics about what is happening at Baylor. From the stories about the film and media department and its graduates, the Baylor alums serving in Africa, Judge Starr and the group traveling to Washington, D.C., and the article about the Baylor Bears and Bruiser, I must commend the entire staff for their efforts.

I read this issue from cover to cover. It was interesting, emotional and very compelling. I just had to tell you “job well done”.

Keep up the good work!

Mike Sartain
Waco, Texas

Remembering A.A. Hyden

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. A.A. Hyden in the In Memoriam section of the spring 2014 issue of Baylor Magazine. Early in the second semester of my sophomore year at Baylor, my father passed away suddenly following a heart attack. I missed a week of school, and then returned to Baylor to continue with my studies. One day, one of my professors in the music school told me that Dr. Hyden would like to see me in his office. Still grieving, I couldn’t imagine why the venerable dean of students would want to see me. When I arrived in his office, Dr. Hyden invited me in, shut the door to his office and informed me that he knew about the loss of my father, and wanted to check on me to see how I was doing. At the time, Baylor had over 10,000 students, and I could have easily been lost in the crowd. But Dr. Hyden made the effort to ensure that I wasn’t. He will always have a fond place in my heart for going the extra mile for me. I’m sure God welcomed him home with the greeting, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Mark McCoy, BA ’87

Bear facts

I have just read your article on “The Bears” by Randy Fiedler and thoroughly enjoyed it.

HOWEVER, the end of the story that talks about the original Wendy’s bear IS NOT ACCURATE. How do I know?

I AM THE ORIGINAL WENDY’S BEAR in 1981. I am sure that the information you have is correct regarding Andy Spencer in 1984, but the costume had already been used for three seasons.

I was in my freshman P.E. class in 1981, when the teacher, who was a Baylor assistant basketball coach, asked me if I would be interested in donning this new bear mascot [costume] for the basketball games. He said he had been put in charge of finding someone, so he asked me.

For all of the 1981-82 season and all of the 1982-83 basketball seasons I was the Wendy’s Bear mascot. I have a picture of me in the costume with my parents in 1981.

I graduated in 1985 with my Bachelor of Science in Education and my Master’s in P.E. in 1986. I have been a teacher and coach in Mesquite ISD ever since for 28 years.

I am confident that Dr. Eugene Baker and Randy Fiedler went with what they knew about the human mascot and it’s history, but I just wanted to try and set the record straight. Forever a Baylor Bear!

If this message goes no further, then I’ll be disappointed, but not mad or upset.

Charles (Chuck) P. Niven Jr.,
BSEd ’85, MSEd ’86
Mesquite, Texas

Or was it...

My name is Rev. Kyle Byrd. I currently live in Burnet, TX, where I am the founder and Lead Pastor of Church at The Epicenter, a non-denominational church. I attended BU from 1980-82. I was an education major. I met and married my wife, Robin (Beard) Byrd, while at BU. We were married while students at BU and lived in the Herrington House as the caregivers for the upstairs guest rooms, under the oversight of Mr. Jack Thornton, who was the Campus Host who worked out of Wiethorn Information Center.

I am writing to ask that you correct mis-information that was published in the Spring 2014 edition of the Baylor Magazine. On pages 50-51, the magazine states that, in 1984, Andy Spencer was named as the first official mascot for Baylor athletics. That is incorrect! In the fall of 1981, the Sports Information Department (SID) for BU athletics, in partnership with Wendy’s, asked ME to don the first-ever human bear suit to represent Baylor Bear athletics. As the mascot, the BU “Bear” was introduced at the Heart of Texas Coliseum at that year’s Southwest Conference home opener for the Bear’s basketball team. I entertained the crowds for every home game from that game forward. In a meaningful out-of-town game that year, versus the Aggies, I even traveled with the team to Reed Arena on the campus of Texas A&M University!

After the ’81-’82 basketball season, on several occasions, in order to promote BU athletics at the community level across Waco, I made special appearances on behalf of BU athletics. Such appearances included area Little League events, at Richland Mall for “Bear Day,” and at several on-campus events. It quickly became a “big deal” to have the Baylor Bear at such events, signing autographs (paw prints) for children of all ages! While Andy Spencer might have been the first volunteer mascot to “perform at football games wearing a Baylor jersey over a bear costume,” he was NOT the first Baylor Bear mascot!

As appreciation for my willingness to represent BU athletics, the BU SID kept me and my wife amply supplied with Wendy’s “meal deal” coupons. Robin and I were blessed with our first child while students at BU. A funny story about my experience as Bear was that Robin, while she was pregnant with our first child, craved cheeseburgers! Needless-to-say, Wendy’s and BU athletics were our best friends at that time in our lives! We almost named our first daughter “Wendy”—almost! The name Jennifer won out! She was born May 18, 1982, at Hillcrest Hospital in Waco.

I know that the Baylor Magazine would want to always set forth a standard of the utmost integrity, thus I humbly request that a correction be published, offering the REAL story behind the first-ever Baylor Bear mascot! I would be more than happy to talk with anyone involved in setting the record straight. My story can be easily fact-checked for accuracy!

Kyle Byrd, ’80-’82
Burnet, Texas

‘Breathtaking’ bias

What a shame your biased and failed journalistic introduction (“the breathtaking reach of the Affordable Care Act”) marred the otherwise fascinating conversation between Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz in Baylor Magazine Spring 2014 issue.

To what “breathtaking reach” do you refer? The suggestion seems that the ACA is an “overreach.” Is that your intent?

Otherwise, what a fascinating discussion! Mr. Dershowitz got it right to say that Starr’s accurate description of the ACA and the case were “fair.” I question your objectivity in the introduction of the article.

Carter King, BA ’63
Austin, Texas

Program pride

I would like to submit a correction to an article in the Spring 2014 issue of Baylor Magazine. On page 16, the U.S. Army-Baylor
University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy was referred to as a master’s degree program. In fact, the program has produced doctoral students for 10 years.

Second, I was disappointed to see that the recent rating (Editor Note: last ranked in 2011) of the program as 5th in the nation did not rank more prominently in the article. It was the top-ranked Baylor graduate program of all the programs mentioned, but only got a mention under ‘Other Graduate Programs.’ While the other programs have a lot to be proud of,
the U.S. Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy was ranked 5th out of well over 200 programs across the country. Similarly, the healthcare management program was ranked 11th, well above the other programs singled out in the article.

There is respect and admiration when someone asks, “Are you a Baylor grad?” We take great pride in our Baylor roots. We wear Baylor colors; we root for Baylor teams. I hope that Baylor will take pride in its military programs, too.

Holly Roberts, MPT ’00, DPT ’07
Dupont, Washington

Keep ’em coming

>As requested in the last issue, we have received numerous Baylor tree swing-related memories. Are there other memorable spots on campus that hold a special memory for you? Send them in! We’ll be sharing what we can in a future issue.