By Maleesa Johnson
Baylor’s athletic heritage is preserved, and its future supported by the Baylor “B” Association.
This association is made up of former athletes that lettered at Baylor. While the requirements for lettering vary from sport to sport, a letter signifies that the athlete was recognized for significant contribution on the team.
“The main purpose of the ‘B’ Association is to honor the players who have worn the green and gold,” said executive director Walter Abercrombie. “That is why we exist.”
While it is true that every letter winner is a member, only those that pay dues are considered active. Active members attend annual meetings and any other meeting that the board of the association may call.
Currently, the association is honoring the previous football players that played at Floyd Casey. At each home game, a specific decade is honored. This weekend, the players from the 1950s will be honored.
“A big part of our purpose is to also make sure we preserve the heritage of our athletes that have come through,” Abercrombie said.
The “B” Association preserves this heritage in multiple ways. The Legend Award is presented by the association to honor outstanding former athletes in their sport. The association is also in charge of the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame.
Six players are to be inducted to the Hall of Fame tonight. According to the Baylor Athletics website, these players include Brandon Couts, from track and field in 1998-2001; Sheila Lambert former women’s basketball palyer in 2000-02; Jerry Marcontell, former football player in 1955-57; David Murphy, former baseball player in 2001-03; Walter “Pinkie” Palmer, former football in 1966-68; and Brian Skinner, former men’s basketball player in 1995-98.
Abercrombie said many new facilities have the names of previous letterwinners. He said he hopes being a part of the association helps former athletes feel more connected to Baylor.
“That’s one reason the lettermen association is important because we help keep athletes engaged and feeling good about the university,” Abercrombie said.
The association started out as a reunion between players before World War II. Dutch Schroeder, former president of the “B” association, said this reunion started out as informal meetings during Homecoming.
Schroeder is also a letter winner for his contribution to Baylor’s baseball team in the 1940s. Schroeder ran the association as a volunteer for 40 years.
“The meeting would take place in an Austin Ave Hotel,” Schroeder said. “It was usually at a breakfast before the homecoming parade. ‘Froggie’ Coleman, who had been a Baylor letter winner, was working in the physical education department and he became the leader in getting the men together.”
These meetings halted during World War II as athletics at Baylor temporarily shutdown. After the war, the homecoming meetings were resumed. Eventually, officers were elected and dues were established.
For the following 20 years, the organization continued to meet, but never got involved with anything outside of meetings.
In the mid 1960s, Bennie Strickland a multi-sport athlete from the 1920s was selected to be the volunteer executive director. Soon, plans were developed for a room to house the association.
When sufficient funds had been committed to the project, Baylor’s administration made space available on the Northwest corner of Floyd Casey Stadium. By the 1972 football season, the “B” Room was completed.
“The “B” Association has assisted the athletic department in various projects and event over the years,” Schroeder said. “From purchasing batting cages for the baseball team, completing the finances at the Ferrell center for the basketball team, building a dressing room for the volleyball team, and many other things.”