Our Back Pages

As we publish this issue of Baylor Arts & Sciences magazine, the University is celebrating the 113th anniversary of one of its most cherished traditions — Homecoming. This installment of “Our Back Pages” looks back at some momentous and less heralded memories of Baylor Homecomings past.

October 11, 2022
Fall 2022 Homecoming 1909

1909: At Baylor’s first Homecoming (HC) celebration, held over a Thanksgiving holiday, automobiles and horse-drawn carriages span 25 blocks to form one of the nation’s first Homecoming parades. In the first HC football game, almost 5,000 fans see Baylor beat then-crosstown rival TCU, 6-3.

1915: In the next Baylor Homecoming following the 1909 debut, floats are included in the parade for the first time.

1926: During a heated brawl on the field following Baylor’s 20-9 Homecoming football win against Texas A&M at Waco’s Cotton Palace, an A&M cadet receives a fatal injury.

1928: A tradition no one hoped would ever be needed is begun, as the first Mass Meeting is held in remembrance of the Immortal Ten (Baylor students who were killed in a bus-train collision the previous year).

Fall 2022 Elaine Cross - Baylor's first Homecoming Princess

1934: Junior Elaine Cross of Gatesville is chosen by the student body as Baylor’s first “Homecoming Princess” — later called the Homecoming Queen.

1942: With wartime restrictions making gasoline rare, Baylor holds its first and only non-mechanized HC parade.

1943-1945: Homecoming is canceled for three years during World War II.

1946: With the war over, Homecoming resumes. Highlights include a memorial service for Baylor’s fallen heroes and the dedication of 125 memorial lampposts on Founders Mall.

1950: Even though the new Baylor Stadium is not yet completed, it’s far enough along to host its first HC football game. Baylor beats Texas A&M, 27-20.

1952: Baylor’s Homecoming Queen, Pat Barfield, becomes an overnight celebrity once chosen from 100 U.S. HC Queens by the Eighth Army as “The Homecoming Queen We’d Most Like to Come Home to” from the Korean War.

1954: For the first time, an all-student talent show with comedy skits and musical performances is presented at Homecoming, hosted by the Ex-Students Association. In 1955 the show returns as “Varsity in Revue,” while in 1956 it’s given the name “Pigskin Revue,” and is sponsored by the Peer Club. It’s also the first year that HC Queen candidates are presented as part of the program.

1956: All but 10 Baylor football players get food poisoning a few days before the Homecoming game, but enough of them recover to allow the Bears to play Texas A&M. It’s the first sellout at Baylor Stadium, and the first Baylor HC football game played at night under lights.

1957: Texas Gov. Price Daniel (a Baylor alum) speaks at the dedication of the “Pippa” statue in front of Armstrong Browning Library.


Fall 2022 - Homecoming 1960 Broadway star Carole Cook
Carole Cook

1960: Cabaret, a traditional Baylor HC musical show, debuts featuring Broadway star (and BU alumna) Carole Cook.

1967: A flurry of new building construction on campus leaves no space in which to hold the HC Bonfire, so it’s canceled for the year.

1971: Early in the Homecoming football game the TCU head coach, Jim Pittman, collapses from a heart attack. He’s rushed to Providence Hospital, where he dies minutes later. The TCU players are told the news at halftime, and go on to beat Baylor, 34-27.

1973: The grand marshal of Baylor’s Home-coming parade is alumnus Leon Jaworski, who only two days earlier had been appointed as the new special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation.

1983: The Homecoming parade features three Baylor alumni then prominent in Texas government — Governor Mark White, Attorney General Jim Mattox and State Treasurer (and future governor) Ann Richards.

1984: The first Homecoming Extravaganza, a dance sponsored by the Baylor Chamber of Commerce, is held.

1996: Texas Governor (and future U.S. President) George W. Bush is grand marshal of the Homecoming parade.

2010: At Homecoming, Baylor honors the 10 inaugural winners of its Meritorious Achievement Awards.

Fall 2022 Baylor's Eternal Flame 2015

2015: The University and the Baylor Chamber unveil an artistic structure to immortalize Baylor’s Eternal Flame tradition — a longtime annual part of Homecoming honoring the Immortal Ten.

2018: On the eve of Homecoming, Baylor officially launches Give Light, a $1.1 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign to support Illuminate, the University’s academic strategic plan.

2020: COVID-19 concerns force the cancellation of the bonfire and Homecoming parade, but virtual versions of Singspiration, Mass Meeting, Pigskin Revue and the HC pep rally are held. The HC football game against Oklahoma State is postponed until Dec. 12.

Fall 2022 Homecoming King and Queen 2021

2021: A new tradition begins as a Homecoming King is chosen in addition to a Queen. And with COVID cases on the wane, Baylor renews its HC parade tradition.