As one of the most famous live mascots in the world, Bevo is the living symbol of the Texas Longhorns.
And a new story from The Alcalde, the official publication of the Texas Exes, explores not only the history of Bevo XV, who made his public debut last weekend, but of every Bevo since 1916.
Bevo XV is younger than most new Bevos at only 19 months of age, with 40-inch horns that don’t have the typical adult coloration because they are still pink with new growth. The newest Bevo is owned by the Bakers, a family which also bred Bevos XIII and XIV, and faced stiff competition from across the country for the spot.
Inquiries came in from all over the country, including Maryland, Washington, Florida and Louisiana, though the out-of-state steers were quickly eliminated — the Silver Spurs decided they wanted a steer from Texas. After making that decision, the process took seven months to complete.
Bevo’s job isn’t easy, so it isn’t easy to find the perfect fit to become the Longhorns mascot. He’s got to be the perfect shade of burnt orange, and, just as importantly, he must be crowd-friendly during 40-odd public appearances per year.
In the past, when the selection process was more informal, there were some incidents:
Over the last century, Bevos have charged fans, photographers, and players; stampeded across the campus; kicked out their trailers; and otherwise asserted their wildness.
The previous Bevo notably got a little antsy when former Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley got a little too close to him after a punt return touchdown against Texas Tech years ago, but the rigorous selection process has ensured that the Longhorns mascot has been much more docile in the modern age.
After narrowing the list, six candidates were trotted out to a Longhorn Band practice for a sort of audition, and Bevo XV successfully kept a cool enough head to win the gig.
Sunrise Spur, Bevo XV’s registered name, had already won a national competition against 132 other steers, many of them older. Baby Bevo took those honors in large part because of his “exceptional conformation,” a technical phrase that means he fits the standards of the bred — not to mention the standards of carrying on the Bevo tradition.
The job does come with perks. Bevo XV roams on 250 acres at the Bakers’ ranch outside Austin, has plenty of Longhorn friends to socialize with, and rides to games in an air-conditioned trailer. He also gets plenty of attention and affection from his owners.
Naturally, the Bakers are proud:
The walls of the Bakers’ home are lined with Bevo memorabilia and photos. Statues, signed game balls, plaques, and ribbons are everywhere. The stairway banisters glint with dozens of silver Bevo belt buckles. There’s a framed photo of Betty and John in their finest with Bevo XIII at George W. Bush’s inaugural presidential ball, and Betty and John with Bevo XIV at the 2005 national championship. “Where he goes, we go,” John says.
With Longhorn steer often living into their 20s, it could be two decades or more before we are introduced to Bevo XVI. That’s the hope, at least, after Bevo XIV passed away unexpectedly of the bovine leukemia virus.
The history of Bevo is just as fascinating. The first ‘Horns mascot was not ‘Bevo’ at all, but a dog named Pig Bellmont. His reign lasted from 1914 until a tragic run-in with a Ford Model T cut it short on New Year’s Day 1923.
The first actual Longhorns mascot, featuring the improved name, appeared in 1916 while Pig Bellmont was still walking the Forty Acres. He lasted for less than a full game on Thanksgiving Day against Texas A&M (a 21-7 ‘Horns win), and the university went another two decades before trying the experiment at another football game.
In fact, Bevo I ultimately was slaughtered and eaten at a barbecue in 1920. Needless to say, life as Bevo has improved considerably since.
There were several more starts and stops over the decades before Bevo V solidified the role in the 1950s.
And the rest, as they say, is history.