Behind the scenes: look inside ‘Voice of the Bears’ cave

John Morris, "Voice of the Bears," has various pieces from the past in his office, all of which link directly to Baylor athletics. Photo courtesy of John Morris

By Joe Pratt | Broadcast Reporter/ Anchor

When you’ve covered Baylor sports for as long as John Morris has, the sports memorabilia and mementos pile up. The “Voice of the Bears” is nearing the completion of his 27th year as the lead broadcaster for Baylor athletics. His office now holds various pieces from the past, all of which link directly to Baylor athletics.

“Everything is Baylor related here,” Morris said. “It’s kind of accumulated through the years, and my wife would say it’s junky, but I say it’s Baylor junkies.”

While Morris has occupied the new office space in the Simpson Center for around seven years, the shelves consist of Baylor collectibles dating back to his parents’ Baylor days.

“The oldest might be the Baylor pennant,” Morris said. “[It] was my dad’s or mom’s when they were in school, so it goes back to 1958.”

The first thing you’ll see before even entering the office is a black chair with emblems on the seat of the 2021 NCAA National Championship. Morris was on-site for the national championship game between Baylor and Gonzaga University at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The chair is one of the few items that was paid for.

“I bought [it] and it wasn’t that much and I was glad to pay for [it] myself,” Morris said. “We could get it for $150.”

On the back of the desk, there is a small, transparent plaque with a voice recording icon passed on it. There is also a small QR code which contains an audio file of Morris’ call of the final seconds of Baylor’s NCAA title game.

Morris also broadcasted the Big 12 championship this season in a dramatic photo-finish victory for the Bears. A portrait of the final play is displayed on the wall along with his media credential from the game, the newest pieces of the collection. He was in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl in January, yet another bowl game in Morris’ illustrious broadcasting career.

Having been present for numerous championships and bowl games, Morris has gathered a laundry list of title-winning banners and rings. However, he is still awaiting the national championship ring from last year’s Baylor basketball team. Morris has already mapped out how he will display the new bling, along with the old ones too.

“I’ve got a ring case coming; the basketball coaches all got a really nice ring case, and I’ve got one of those coming, but it’s not done yet,” Morris said. “I don’t think there’s any here right now … the last few years you think about all the winning that Baylor’s done — conference championships and national championships — and that’s been a lot of rings and ball watches and things like that.”

The desk space is dedicated to his “Sic ‘Em Podcast” audio materials. Headsets are connected to a soundboard which controls all of the recording for the shows. Baylor athletes, such as men’s and women’s basketball players Adam Flagler and Queen Egbo, visit Morris’ office for an episode. Women’s basketball coach Nicki Collen was featured on the show, and Morris spoke with Jerome Tang ahead of his departure to Kansas State University.

“When we record our podcast, we do it right here,” Morris said. “This time of year again, I can devote this equipment just to the podcast. During the regular year, I might need this for basketball or something, but now that basketball is over I just usually leave it set up right here which makes it easy, and we recorded a podcast yesterday.”

When directed toward the back corner of the room, you’ll get a glimpse of what Morris noted as an “Aggie Stick.” Morris explained the baseball-bat sized wooden plank’s unique backstory.

“That goes way back at Baylor, when [Texas] A&M was an all-guys school, A&M guys used to come to Baylor to find dates. [They used] Aggie sticks to beat off the Aggies to keep them off campus,” Morris said. “In the last series, we played against A&M before they left for the SEC in 2012, somebody brought that to the ballpark and we couldn’t let him bring that weapon into the ballpark. So the facilities guy took it and he showed it to me and he said, ‘You want it?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I want it.’”

The map on the wall displays pins where he has broadcasted men’s and women’s basketball and football games across the United States. The pins are placed in over thirty states, spanning from Hawaii to Massachusetts. Morris also made trips to the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. But even in his 35th year in Baylor broadcasting, he is still trying to put more new pins on the board.

“If men’s basketball had won the second-round game and gone to Philadelphia, that would have been a new place, a new pin this year, but we didn’t quite make it,” Morris said.

The Baylor artifacts are not just limited to what hangs on the wall and what lies on the shelves. Everyone may find a small piece they relate to within Morris’ workspace. But his office is just the surface of the amount of sports souvenirs that Morris has accumulated over the years. As Morris continues to grow his tenure as the “Voice of the Bears,” he will also grow his collection. However, the office’s space will not increase, and Morris will have to decide which items stay and which ones go.

“At some point, you can’t just keep at it. You have to clear out something to make room for something else every once in a while,” Morris said. “I’ll do that usually in the summer, when my time is really not busy at all. That’s a time when I sort of try to go through and clear some stuff out.”