|From the 1890s on, Oklahoma A&M
sports teams had been referred to as the Agriculturists or
Aggies, the Farmers, and officially - but unpopularly - the
Tigers. But by 1924, Charles Saulsberry, sports editor of the
Oklahoma City Times, and other writers who regularly covered
college events had begun to refer to Stillwater's teams as the
A&M Cowboys. Reporters in search of colorful synonyms started
sprinkling Cowpokes, Pokes, Waddies, Cowpunchers and Punchers in
"Cowboys" had a Southwestern flavor and flair that fit like a favorite pair of boots. The Athletic Council authorized Athletic Director Edward C. Gallagher to have 2,000 balloons printed, "Oklahoma Aggies - Ride 'em, Cowboy" for sale at football games in 1926.
The nickname quickly germinated, yielding a genuine identity that had long been lacking on both campus and off. Around 1923, an early U.S. deputy marshal, gun-totin' Frank B. "Pistol Pete" Eaton of Perkins, headed Stillwater's Armistice Day parade. For some time students and alumni had considered Indians, various animals, and deputy marshals as a replacement for the Tigers. At the parade's end, the search was over.
The spirited image of a tough, proud, self-reliant cowboy triggered by Eaton became a cartoon drawing. The new mascot was easily woven into the fabric of campus life. Not until 1984 would official sanction be given the emblem and its "Pistol Pete" moniker, but by then the Cowboys already had been settled comfortably into sixty years of sports vocabularies and print, spilling over into all general references to the student body and alumni, faculty and fans.
On May 15, 1957, Governor Raymond Gary's signature made official the changing of the name of Oklahoma A&M College to Oklahoma State University of Agriculture and Applied Science. For some time alumni and administrators had felt the increasing size and score of the 67-year-old school merited a name descriptive of its operations, activities and services. The days of classwork done in partitioned nooks of local churches had long faded. The progressive land-grant giant deserved a title to match its maturing image as a strong, educational power anchored on a beautiful, sprawling campus.
With a new name for the university in Stillwater, the old nicknames began to fade.
Goodbye, Tigers and Aggies. Howdy, Cowboys and Cowgirls!
Victor Herbert was inadvertently responsible for a deeply entrenched facet of A&M athletic tradition, the waving song. His lyricist was speech instructor H.G. Seldy Seldombridge. In 1908, Seldombridge had gone to Columbia University to scout for a senior class play. While there, he heard In Old New York, the hit song from the operetta The Red Mill. Even New Yorkers were humming the song on city streets, and Seldombridge returned to Oklahoma humming it, too.
Shortly thereafter, he incorporated In Old New York into the closing number of a college follies show being rehearsed in Stillwater's Grand Opera House. But as he studied the stage decorated in orange and black for a campus scene, he realized that New York's praises were out of place for a southwestern college setting.
"Suddenly OAMC flashed to my mind," he explained in 1941. He asked the 30-voice choir to take a break, grabbed a piece of wrapping paper, hummed, and scribbled. In less than ten minutes he had the alternate lyrics that would enliven sports events long after opening night.
For that finale, a letterman representing each sport joined the chorus onstage. The students added their own memorable touch. They swayed and sang "OAMC! OAMC! We'll sing your praise tonight," as they waved to the audience in unison.
It almost raised the roof off the old building, noted Seldombridge, who left the campus in 1910. Exhilarated, the crowd surged to its feet and returned the rhythmic wave. It took two encores before the campus and community gathering was willing to relinquish the emotion of the moment.
"From that night on, you could frequently hear someone whistling the tune," he recalled, touched that OAMC's waving song was remembered as late as 1941.
The Waving Song tradition continues to this day with OSU fans rising to their feet and waving one arm in rhythm with the song after scores in football and following victories in other sports. Contrary to popular misconception, this tradition should not be referred to as "Waving the Wheat," which is the name of the two-armed wave adopted by University of Kansas fans.
The Waving Song Lyrics
Oklahoma State! Oklahoma State!
"Ride 'Em Cowboys" Lyrics
Ride, ride, ride, ride,
|Homecoming Week is celebrated throughout the
country. At Oklahoma State University, Homecoming has special
meaning and the celebration reaches a level unmatched anywhere
else. In fact, "America's Greatest Homecoming Celebration" at
OSU is known coast-to-coast as one of the country's great
college football weeks and weekends.
Throughout OSU's Homecoming activities, more than 50,000 alumni visit Stillwater. That total does not include fans and alumni who make the trek just for the football game.
From street painting to Orange Ambiance, and from the well-known "Walkaround" in which the city streets are closed for a gigantic block party centered around Homecoming decorations, to "Homecoming & Hoops" nothing says college football like Homecoming Week at Oklahoma State. It is the epitome of life in a college town.
A variety of activities are held throughout Homecoming Week
and they touch nearly every aspect of campus life.
|The OSU Spirit Rider first appeared in 1984.
The late Eddy Finley, who was asked to come up with a mascot for
the band, started the Spirit Rider program. Finley, an
agricultural education professor, wanted a mascot who could
carry the OSU flag down the field after each touchdown.
John Beall Jr. was the first OSU Spirit Rider. Beall was a member of the OSU Rodeo Team and rode his own horse, a black mare named Della.
Ellis and Mary Grace Hostmeyer donated a 5-year-old gelding named Stars Parr Money four years after the program's initiation. This horse would be used as the official spirit horse for the OSU Athletic Department in return for season tickets and decoration credit. The horse's common name, Bullet, was chosen after a campus-wide contest was held in the Daily O'Collegian.
Football games are the most important appearance the Spirit Rider makes. The Spirit Rider leads the Spirit Walk, marches to the field with the OSU Marching Band and runs to the 30-yard line after a touchdown.
Game days for the Spirit Rider start at least three hours before kickoff. The rider and the ground crew meet at the horse barn to brush and dress the horse. They then travel to the Seretean Center for the Spirit Walk.
After the walk, the rider and horse return to the Edmon Low Library to lead the band to the field. Forty-five minutes before game time, the Spirit Rider and the band march to Boone Pickens Stadium to make their grand entrance.
The band marches on the field and splits into two groups. As
the crowd goes wild, the announcer yells, "Here … comes …
A tradition that began with head coach Les Miles continues with head coach Mike Gundy.
The night before football games, the team stays in the Atherton Hotel at the Student Union. On game day, two hours and fifteen minutes prior to the start of the game, the team walks down Hester Street to Boone Pickens Stadium. Coach Gundy leads the spirited parade, followed by the OSU Marching band, the spirit squad and, of course, the players.
Fans already at the stadium gather on the side of the road
and cheer their Cowboys on to victory. This tradition quickly
became a favorite of Cowboy fans, creating a new and exciting
way for the team to enter the stadium.
Another tradition started by OSU Football Coach Les Miles and continued today by Mike Gundy is the post-game singing of the OSU Alma Mater.
After every win at Boone Pickens Stadium, OSU players and coaches gather in front of the student section in the northwest corner of the stadium and sing the alma mater. All fans, students and non-students are encouraged to remain in the stands after OSU victories and join the Cowboys for the Alma Mater hymn.
The Cowboys even sang the alma mater in Norman in 2001, following their upset win over the Oklahoma Sooners. Cowboy fans were seated in a corner of Owen Field, and when the final buzzer rang, with the score OSU 16 - OU 13, the team stood on the field in front of them and celebrated the victory with their loyal fans.
The tradition has expanded over the years into other sports. The Cowboy Football team also now sings the Alma Mater at road games with the loyal OSU fans that have traveled to cheer the Pokes on to victory.
Alma Mater Hymn Lyrics
|With the unveiling of the renovated and
expanded Gallagher-Iba Arena came another tradition - the Spirit
At the under-8:00 timeout during the second half of OSU home basketball games, a member of the OSU Spirit Squad runs around the upper level of the arena carrying a huge OSU flag while the Spirit Band plays the "William Tell Overture."
The flag is then passed to other members of the Spirit Squad,
until it finally arrives to the center of Eddie Sutton Court to
be waved until the end of the song.
|Around 1923, when Oklahoma A & M College was
searching for a new mascot to replace their tiger (copied along
with orange and black colors, from Princeton), a group of
students saw Frank Eaton leading the Armistice Day Parade. He
was approached to see if he would be interested in being the
model for the new mascot, and he agreed. A likeness was drawn
and began to be used on sweatshirts, stickers, etc. and a
tradition was born.
That caricature was the basis for what is used today as the official Oklahoma State University Mascot. For thirty-five years, the crusty old cowboy was a living symbol of OSU, representing the colorful past of the area. As such, he would attend OSU athletic events, building dedications, etc., and sign autographs, pose for photographs and reminisce about the Old West with anyone who would listen. In more recent years, the University of Wyoming and New Mexico State University began using variations of OSU's artwork as logos for their schools.
To this day, his likeness is a visible reminder of the Old West to literally millions of people yearly as a symbol of colleges whose mascots pay homage to the cowboy. Each year, 10 to 15 OSU students tryout for Pistol Pete. A panel of former "Petes" judge the tryouts and select the two best candidates based on an interview, a mime, and posing as mascot in different "game situations". The two who are selected split the approximately 500 appearances annually. These appearances include all athletic events, pep rallies, business openings, weddings, birthday parties, and public school events.
Though Pistol Pete has been OSU's mascot since 1923, only since 1958 has someone worn the current garb and "head". The former Pistol Petes and the years they served are as follows:
Learn more about Pistol Pete by visiting
|"My boy, may an old man's curse rest upon
you, if you do not try to avenge your father...You must never
stop until they are all accounted for!"
These words, according to one of Eaton's many stories were spoken by a family friend following the brutal murder of his father, and guided the formative years of Frank's life. Born in 1860, in Hartford, Connecticut, Frank moved with his family to Kansas shortly after the close of the Civil War. When Frank was eight years old, his father, a former Union soldier, was shot and killed by a group of lawless former Confederates. Frank was a witness to the murder and each of the murderers' faces was imprinted in his memory.
After being challenged to avenge his father's death by Mose Beaman, (the family friend) Frank set out to learn how to handle guns. Mose gave him a gun and holster, and taught him how to handle and shoot guns. Frank quickly learned to "shoot a snake's head off with either hand". During the next few years, Frank's days were spent helping his mother with chores and practicing shooting. With each passing year, he became faster and more accurate with his guns.
When Frank was fifteen, he learned of the location of one of his father's killers. After deciding it was almost time to set out on his mission, Frank wanted to make sure his shooting skills were good enough. He decided to visit Fort Gibson, a cavalry fort, to try to learn more about handling a gun. There he competed with the cavalry's best marksmen, beating them each time. After many competitions, the fort's commanding officer, Colonel Copinger gave Frank a marksmanship badge and a new name. From that day forward, Frank would be known as Pistol Pete!Frank then set out on the trail of his father's killers. First was Shannon Campsey, Frank killed him on his own front porch. Doc Ferber was next, he was shot off of his horse with "two forty-five slugs through his breast". John Ferber would have been next, but the day before Frank caught up with him, he was shot for cheating at cards. Frank went to his funeral just to make sure he was dead. At John Ferber's funeral, Frank met a Deputy United States Marshal who was on the trail of the same men. After talking about the men, Frank was offered, and accepted a commission.
At seventeen, Frank became a Deputy U.S. Marshal under Judge Isaac C. Parker, "the hanging judge." Frank then caught up with Jim and Jonce Campsey together. They were both shot as they drew on Frank. Finally Frank tracked down the last murderer in New Mexico. Wyley Campsey was shot in a barroom gunfight along with two of his hired gunmen. Finally, after six long years, Frank Eaton was able to avenge his father's death. Each man drew his gun first, but came out "second best" in the end.Stories such as the above contributed to the fame and notoriety of Frank Eaton. He lived the life of a true cowboy, said to "pack the fastest guns in the Indian Territory", he usually carried a loaded forty-five and often said "I'd rather have a pocket full of rocks than an empty gun". His quick-draw was the source of much interest throughout his later years, and Glenn Shirley of Stillwater, OK remembers taking him to an Indian Territory Gun Collectors Association meeting to show off his skills. He was also known to throw a coin in the air, draw, and shoot it before it hit the ground according to H.F. Donnelley of Stillwater who saw it himself. Donnelley also remembers Eaton picking up burning coals that had fallen out of the fire in his Blacksmith shop, with his toes (his feet were so worn and calloused that he couldn't feel it)!
When he died, his obituary appeared throughout the country, in the New York Times, Newsweek Magazine, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Cattleman, The 1959 American People's Encyclopedia Yearbook among others, each listing him as a former Deputy U.S. Marshal. In addition, according to his daughter, Elizabeth Wise of Perkins, OK his family received sympathy letters from as far away as Germany, Canada and Japan and was besieged with visitors at his home for many months following the funeral.
More information on Frank "Pistol Pete" Eaton, including personal correspondence and remembrances, audio interviews, photos, articles, etc. is available from the Oklahoma State University Office of University Archives and Special Collections.