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The Baylor "B" Association is composed of athletic letterwinners at Baylor University who have continued their interest in Baylor's athletic program. These members want the promotion of athletics to warrant maintaining the respect, honor, and distinction which the athletic letter "B" rightly deserves.
While all letterwinners are members, only those who have paid current dues as set by the Board of Directors are active members. In addition to the six officers, the Board is composed of 12 members duly elected by the membership. The Board meets on the call of the president.
There shall be an annual meeting of all active members at a date and time set by the Board. The Board may also call for additional meetings.
There seems to be no early records to authenticate the beginnings of a letterwinner's organization. There were some meetings of former athletes during the late 1930s. These sessions were usually at Homecoming, when former football players got together to relive their exploits. C. Foster "Froggie" Coleman, a football letterman in 1936-37, stayed on at Baylor in the Physical Education and Athletic Departments. According to an Oral History recording in Baylor's Texas Collection, Coleman seems to have been selected (rather than elected) to set up these meetings.
Coleman went to work for the Owens-Illinois Class Company in Waco in 1942. Meetings were not held during World War II when Baylor had a very limited athletic program. In the late 1940s, some meetings again were held at Homecoming. Coleman was elected president. Other early leaders were George Berry Graves, Sr., Horace Jackson and "Mule" Frazier. The names of other presidents have not been found. Coleman did publish a newsletter during the football season while he was president. It seems that dues were $5 a year.
In the 1950s and the 1960s, the "B" Association took on the responsibility of helping the athletic department financially by sponsoring on of the Freshman Football games. The event was called Waco Merchants Night, and it proved to be of considerable help. Stan Williams Agnew Duckworth, Jerry Dykeman, Jack Jeffrey and Albert Witcher were some of the leaders in this project.
Since 1960, most records are available of the officers and the notable events of the Association. Not many athletes were paying dues. Without finances, there was little the organization could do. Bennie Strickland had retired and was living in Waco, so he was selected to be the Executive Secretary in 1963 with the purpose of developing some interest in the Association and getting more members to pay dues. He established a plan called "Five for Fifty" in which he got lettermen to commit to paying $10 a year for five years. Strickland held his position for five years before moving out of Waco. There was some success to his program as memberships increased and there was some monies in the treasury.
During the late 1960s when Baylor football was at a low ebb, Association leaders began to discuss ways and projects which might help Baylor athletics and also create interest among former lettermen in all sports so that the association could be a stronger influence in the life at Baylor. George Berry Graves, Sr., sensed that all letterwinners would come back and support Baylor athletics if they had a room or a building to call their own. Albert Witcher was president in both 1967 and 1968, and Graves began pushing for a room. Graves wanted the room to be at the stadium, but when he finally persuaded Baylor President Abner McCall in 1969 to give him an okay, it had to be built on campus and had to be fully funded by the Association before it could be built.
Graves and Barney Burch, a fellow Board member, selected Dutch Schroeder, who was on the Athletic Department staff and was a baseball letterman, to help them look over the Baylor campus for the most appropriate site. The site selected was on Fifth Street across from Martin Hall, which was the athletic dorm at the time. With the coaches' offices at the stadium nearly three miles away, it was not always easy for an athlete to have access to their coaches. The building was therefore to house some on-campus offices for members of the coaching staff and a recreation room available to current athletes.
Preliminary plans were developed with local architect Aaron Thomas. The financial campaign began with a brochure showcasing a freestanding building on Fifth Street. When the Baylor Administration saw the earnestness with which the Association approached the project and the early success of the campaign, an area under the northwest stands was offered for the facility. A new plan was created and adopted for a 5,200 square foot meeting room. Also, instead of having to wait until all the funds were in hand, Dr. Herbert Reynolds from the Baylor administration offered to financially back the project until the Association could pay Baylor. When Burch passed away, Walter "Bunk" Bradley joined Graves in overseeing the construction, which began in 1971. The structure was completed in 1972 and lettermen began using the room for the 1972 football season, Coach Grant Teaff's first year at Baylor.
The financial campaign had been successful, so successful that after the masterful handling of the contractual obligations, the Association was able to pay Baylor for the entire cost. Even more, when the pledges were completed, the Association had a $50,000 maintainence fund for the room. These monies were used to maintain the room as the top lettermen's facility in the Southwest Conference (and perhaps the world).
Initially called the "B" room, it was designated as the Letterman's Lounge when the Association changed its name to the Letterman's Association. The purpose of the change was to make a more distinctive name from the Bear Club, the development division of the athletic department.
In 1991, there was a consensus among the members of the Board of Directors to make some major changes: a new outdoor sign, new carpet, and new upholstery. This project was completed prior to the 1991 football season. While this project was being done, the Athletic Department offered use of some unused space (approximately 1,400 square feet) adjacent to the Lounge's north wall. Because of the large crowds using the lounge on big games, the space was accepted with plans for future development.
The 1992 Board of Directors decided the time for expansion was right away. The new area would be named for George Berry Graves, Sr., one of the primary dreamers and a force behind the development of the original structure. Graves has passed away in the summer of 1991.
Thomas, the original architect, was called upon again for plans. The timing was such that the addition could be finished prior to the start of the 1992 season. Reynolds, now the President of Baylor, once again affirmed his faith in Baylor lettermen by backing the Association financially until the funds could be raised. A $100,000 campaign was begun immediately with the hopes of meeting the goal in contributions and pledges before the start of the football season. Ninety percent was raised in contributions and pledges, but it was not until the summer of 1993 that the financial campaign was completed.
With Baylor joining the Big 12 Conference, the "B" Association continues to be a force at Baylor with more letterwinners becoming active participants. The Association continues to find more ways to assist the Athletic Department meet its goals.