1959 - 61  Bears
(Authentic Reproduction)




From the staff of the World Champion Baltimore Colts, John Bridgers was chosen to lead the Baptist Brigade. Bridgers is often credited with bringing wide-open, pass-oriented offensive football to the Southwest Conference. Bridgers was considered to be an innovator and began his coaching career as an assistant at The University Of The South and then in the military for a team in Japan. He became the head football and track coach at Johns Hopkins University for four seasons before signing on with Weeb Ewbank and the Colts. He is credited with helping to develop the great Johnny Unitas and the Colts’ offensive attack and he brought that offensive system to Baylor when he arrived for the 1959 season. His first Baylor staff included two former Baylor quarterbacks, College Football Hall Of Fame member Hayden Fry, the future head coach at SMU, North Texas State, and Iowa where he reached legendary status, and "Cotton" Davidson. One constant of the Bridgers’ era was Baylor’s ability to play Texas tough in almost every meeting, no matter what the respective records each squad came into the game with and of course, this was an era where under Darrell Royal, Texas was often unbeatable within the SWC. The Texas and Baylor-under-Bridgers battles began with a 13-12 Texas victory and the Bears’ close 23-21 victory in the season’s closer against powerful Rice made the overall 4-6 record look very encouraging for this soph dominated squad. All SWC end Albert Witcher was the number one draft choice of the new American Football League Oakland Raiders but played instead with the Oilers in 1960. Austin “Goose” Gonsoulin was deadly on defense and was a Broncos DB from ’60 through ’66 (see HELMET HUT feature ) and finished his pro career in 1967 with San Francisco. Returnees like tackle Buck McLeod, receiver Jerry Moore, and soph backs Ronnie Bull and Ronnie Stanley made enthusiasm easy. Fans noted that Bridgers had slightly altered Baylor’s usual old gold helmets with the standard one-inch dark “Baylor green” center stripe, with the addition of white block style, three-inch player identification numerals on each side of the shell.   


With all the buzz about Bridgers super offensive schemes and a passing offense that was rated as fifth best in the country, many overlooked the fact that the offensive stars like Ronnie Bull were also excellent defensive players and the Bears’ gave up but a TD or less in six of their ten 1960 regular season games. HB Bull was the All American star while All Conference end Bobby Lane and QB Ronnie Stanley made for an effective pass-catch combination. Tommy Minter was a terrific two-way back as was Ronnie Goodwin. LB and guard Herby Adkins who may have been 175 pounds most of the season was called the “best conditioned and most intense” player he had ever coached by Bridgers and the undersized whirlwind was honored with the 1960 Southwest Conference Sportsmanship Award. Adkins teamed well with center and LB Bill Hicks and tackle McLeod was tough enough to be drafted by the Packers. WR Jerry Moore was always a dependable and heady player and gained fame as the head coach of North Texas State, Texas Tech, and Appalachian State Universities. At the latter, he has won numerous Coach Of The Year Honors, divisional national championships, and put his school on the national map by defeating Michigan in one of college football’s all time upsets in 2007. Close losses to Texas by 12-7 and 13-12 to Florida in the Gator Bowl took little luster from this 8-3 season. The defense of 1961 wasn’t as tight as that of ’60 and the result was a 5-0 start that collapsed into a disappointing 5-5 finish by the end of the season. The team was exciting enough to be invited to the Gotham Bowl where everything came together to defeat a very good Utah State team that featured Merlin Olsen, Lionel Aldridge, and Bill Munson. Ronnie Bull, moved to FB, remained “the man” and a Consensus All American who became the Chicago Bears’ first round pick and NFL Rookie Of The Year. One of the inaugural inductees to the Texas High School Football Hall Of Fame, Bull was very solid as a pro for Chicago and Philadelphia, playing through the 1970 season. Tough Herby Adkins and center Bill Hicks were All SWC and Hicks stuck in the CFL for the 1962 season. Goodwin and Minter complemented Bull well as two-way backs with Minter playing DB with the Broncos and Bills. 




If any high school football player could be considered a state-wide legend and then could have chosen to attend any college in the nation, it was Bishop’s, (TX) Ronnie Bull. The aptly named steamroller was a three-sport star who sparkled as a single-wing tailback. He tallied an amazing 530 points in a forty-four game high school career. He was frightening, scoring 228 of his point total as a senior via thirty-three TD’s and thirty extra points. He gained 275 of Bishop’s total of 276 rushing yards against Tuloso H.S., scored five touchdowns while gaining 395 yards against Midway, and was a one man highlight reel on film. Bull fulfilled his role in Baylor’s offense in only a bit less spectacular fashion. He was considered a premiere SWC back, an All Conference performer who excelled on either side of the ball, a two-time All American, and was exceptional against the top-rated competition provided in the Senior and Shrine Bowl Games. Moving smoothly into the pro ranks as the Chicago Bears number one draft choice of 1962, he fulfilled their faith in him as the National Football League’s Rookie Of The Year. Ten seasons later, the last with the Eagles, Bull retired, remained in the Chicago area, and was successful in the printing business. A dependable and most often spectacular back whose exciting bursts belied his extraordinary degree of toughness, Bull remains one of the Baylor Bears’ all time best.  


Prior to the start of the ’62 season, Bridgers removed the player identification numerals from the Bears’ helmets, returning to the classic “Baylor look” of the old gold shell with dark “Baylor green” one-inch center stripe. With QB Don “Gator” Trull the number one passer in the nation and the Baylor passing attack rated at number five, the offense was a one-note symphony despite the running ability of All SWC HB Ronnie Goodwin who spent a lot of time rushing behind All SWC guard Robert Burk. Trull, whose big smile led to his nickname, set conference records for completions, passing yardage, and total offense. With wingback Lawrence Elkins being tutored by the great receiver Raymond Berry, there was potential for more. LB Butch Maples stuck with the Colts for the ’63 season but overall, the defense needed improvement to move up from 4-6. Often referred to as “The Baylor Aerial Circus”, it was fitting that the nation's third best passing attack featured All American QB Trull who again led the country in passing for ‘63 and was fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting. He would play for the Oilers from 1964 through ’69 although he was released to the Patriots for seven games during the 1967 season and finished his professional career in Canada in 1971 with Edmonton. Counter part Lawrence Elkins, also an All American, was the nation’s leading receiver, pulling in a huge seventy receptions. Elkins caught twelve of those passes for 151 yards, an unheard of performance in that era of run oriented football, against Texas in a heartbreaking 7-0 loss that ended with a game saving Longhorn interception in the back of their own end zone. The game cost the Bears the SWC title. Multi-talented, Elkins would play safety on opponents’ long yardage or desperation passing situations or in “prevent type” of defenses. The explosive 8-3 season ended with a Bluebonnet Bowl victory over LSU with James Ingram, who later became a successful attorney, catching two TD passes. Bobby Crenshaw was a leader on the line and Ellington Darden of Conroe, Texas was a member of the freshmen team. Darden would later give up football for a championship bodybuilding career, and became one of the leading researchers and authors on fitness and health. After the passing heroics of 1963, it was stated that “Baylor only runs on and off the field” and it would remain that way under Bridgers. Again in 1964, Elkins, later voted into The College Football Hall Of Fame, was All SWC and All American, and then the Oilers first round draft choice where he played from 1965 through ’67. Bobby Maples had come to Baylor as a QB and LB but at 6’4”, 230 pounds settled in at center and as a far ranging linebacker. He played with the Oilers from 1965 to ’70, spent 1971 with the Steelers, and completed a solid pro career with the Broncos from 1972 through ’78. Soph QB Terry Southall was excellent but 5-5 was the best he could push the squad to.




Having the high school pedigree of coming from the great Brownwood, Texas program of Coach Gordon Wood, lean, 185 pound Lawrence Elkins was much tougher than he may have looked. He refused a Major League Baseball offer to enter Baylor and was an immediate hit as a receiver, bringing in twenty-four passes as a soph. Teaming with All American QB Don Trull, Elkins hit the jackpot as a junior with an NCAA record seventy catches that led the nation. A very good safety and return man, he was a two-time Consensus All American, the first to receive that honor in Baylor history, and he caused every defense to focus upon him. He played for the Houston Oilers as their first round pick for four seasons but his pro career was limited by a knee injury. After joining the Steelers for the 1969 season, he was again injured in the pre-season and retired. Elkins’ post-football career was perhaps more exciting, ushering actor Robert Duvall throughout Texas to research various regional accents and as an industrial engineer, working in Saudia Arabia for the Ministry Of Water as a long time consultant.   


QB Terry Southall broke his leg on the first offensive series against Florida State in 1965’s third game. Despite the occasional flashes of excellent play from soph backup Ken Stockdale, the season was disappointing with the absence of the abilities Southall provided. They lost 9-7 to the Seminoles and finished the season at 5-5 after expecting so much more. Guard Mike Bourland, super tough defensive tackle Greg Pipes, and DB Donnie Laurence who had the mentality of a linebacker, were the All Conference picks in a disappointing year.

If interested in any of these Baylor helmets please click on the photos below.