Father of current freshman initiated change to mesh Line jersey in 1992

John Dillon and daughter, freshman Megan Dillon, celebrate her receiving the Baylor Line jersey John helped design over two decades earlier. Courtesy Art via Megan Dillon

By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer

The Baylor Line jersey is a well-known symbol to many Baylor fans. However, prior to the mesh jersey we have today, the jersey was made from a thick cotton material up until 1992. John Dillon, class of 1993, initiated this change to the material, and now watches as his daughter begins her freshman year at Baylor.

Dillon was in charge of the Baylor Line during his time as a member of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce while a student at Baylor. After talking to some students and other chamber members during his junior year, they decided to change the design of the jersey.

“I wasn’t the only one who figured it needed a fresh and healthy look and importantly, some different material too, some more breathable material, especially on a hot Waco Saturday afternoon,” John Dillon said. “It was a little bit more forgiving to the weather and the elements.”

From that came the mesh-style jersey freshmen now sport on gameday. While it was originally designed as a white jersey with green lettering, it has now evolved into Baylor gold.

“Personally, I always look for things that can be improved and changed on but also still stay grounded in the tradition they were built on,” John Dillon said. “That was a decision, at the time, to evolve the jersey but still keep everything that was great, and still is great, about the Baylor Line.”

By working with a local spirit shop on 5th street, located where Common Grounds now is, the producers of the jerseys came up with several options for the design.

“I’m personally not a designer,” John Dillon said. “My role was saying ‘I think this can, and should, change.’”

Following in his footsteps, his daughter, Megan Dillon, recently began her freshman year at Baylor. This means that she gets to carry on the tradition of running the Baylor Line with the design that her father played a part in 27 years ago.

“To see her with her Line jersey and how important that is to her is pretty amazing as a parent and as an alumni of Baylor,” John Dillon said. “It’s been great to see.”

Megan Dillon said that she grew up watching the Baylor Line run and the football games on TV, and while she has lived most of her life in South Carolina, her family has always made an effort to attend as many Baylor football games as possible.

“My mom just told me girls weren’t allowed to run it when she was here, it was only guys, so she thinks it’s cool that I can,” Megan Dillon said. “It’s always just been really fun.”

While COVID-19 has changed the way that the Line is run, she said that while she won’t be running at the first game on Saturday due to the limited capacity. She’s interested to see how the Line works at a future game.

Her family has season tickets to the game and she hopes to sit in the student section and run the Line during the matchup against TCU.

“Overall, I’ve just been really impressed with how [the university is] handling the Line, football and all this stuff because I know my friends at other schools have not had that same experience,” Megan Dillon said.

Megan Dillon said that when she received her Line jersey in the mail, her parents gave her flowers and balloons while decorating with their Baylor memorabilia. They then watched the Line jersey ceremony livestream together.

“My mom went upstairs and brought down a shirt that said ‘Texas girl,’ and she was like ‘I bought this beginning of your senior year because I knew you were gonna come here,’” Megan Dillon said.

Benbrook freshman Grace Jacoby met Megan Dillon on one of her first days at Baylor in Collins Residence Hall. She said that she loves getting to see Megan Dillon wear the jersey that her dad helped to design.

“It’s such a unique tradition that everyone gets to participate in and is such a fun way to be welcomed to the Baylor family and represent it” Jacoby said. “I’m so glad that she is carrying on the Baylor legacy in her family and carry on the tradition that he helped create.”

John Dillon said that being in charge of the Baylor Line during his time serving the chamber gave him the ability to continue his Line experience beyond freshman year.

“I still remember the first meeting we had out the Student Union Building where we introduced the concept of the Line to the freshman and the elections right there on the spot for the president and the vice president and the other officers,” John Dillon said. “It just really speaks to that tradition of Baylor and how important the Line is to freshmen.”

John Dillon said that he is excited to see the ways that the Line continues to grow.

“I would say the tradition of the Line has grown, even since I was in school, so it’s great to see,” John Dillon said. “A lot of times traditions die out but I think the Baylor Line is a tradition that has become even more solidified.”