Buster the Bulldog Through the Years

Most people know that the Union University mascot is the bulldog, but a surprising number of people don’t know his name, Buster, or his history. In searching for past photos of Buster, we came across a March 1999 Cardinal & Cream article with some great information about our beloved Buster. The article was written by staff writer Polly Pierce and can be found in Vol. 83 No. 10 of the student newspaper.

“Buster Bulldog. Have you ever thought about where the name “Buster” came from, or even when Union became the home of the Bulldogs?

Union sports and bulldogs were united in 1920. However, from 1922 to 1925, women’s sports were named the Terriers. During this same time, the name Bullpups was given to the school’s freshman football team.

An unofficial live bulldog posing with the cheerleaders in 1967.
1967

An unofficial live bulldog posing with the cheerleaders in 1980. 1980

In 1970, Bill Rozich started his Union career as the Bulldog baseball team’s head coach. Rozich, a former member of the Chicago White Sox, set about to improve the school’s baseball program. The Jackson Sun, the city’s local newspaper, began running a cartoon called ‘Buster Says’ in the sports section to keep fans informed of the results of games and to make special announcements about Union sports.

Buster [the cartoon featured in the paper] was created by Joe McCormick of Malesus, Tenn.. This commercial cartoonist, illustrator and free-lance artist drew Buster from March 1970 until the end of baseball season in 1971.” This indicates that Buster as we know him originated as a sports cartoon in the local newspaper. The idea came from Rozich and was brought to life by McCormick.

The article also mentions that the graduating class of 1998 gifted Union with a live bulldog to serve as the official mascot, and Todd Brady, campus minister, became his caretaker. While there were other bulldogs owned by students and Union friends, this was the first dog officially owned by the school, according to records. Buster continued to come to games and charm everyone he met through the mid-2000s. Since the original Buster’s passing, Union hasn’t had a live bulldog.

Live Buster taking in a gorgeous afternoon outdoors
2000

The live Buster doesn't know what to think about the suit Buster in this 2000 photo.

2000

Our live Buster the Bulldog taking in the attention outdoors

2005

Students pet Buster on move-in day in this 2005 snapshot

2005

One thing this article doesn’t mention is the Buster suit that many students have donned at sporting events since the early 1980s. The first photo of a Buster suit can be found in the 1981 Lest We Forget yearbook, and you can see it change significantly over the years. The original version had a basketball uniform, furry arms and legs and a gigantic head, while the next version featured an open mouth and cute little tongue. We also had a darker brown version in late 80s and early 90s, and later a grey dog.

The first photos of the Buster suit in 1981 and 1982

1981 and 1982

The suit from 1984 along with some shots from 1987.

1984 and 1987

Buster cheering for the team in this 1990 photo.

1990

1990 Mr. Union, Steve Steiner, posing with the Buster outfit he sported.

1990, Steve Steiner

Two photos of an old Buster suit, 1991 and 1995.

1991 and 1995

Buster goofing off on roller skates in this 1994 photo.

1994

Buster doing the YMCA in this 1997 photo.

1997

Buster with the cheerleaders in 1994

1994

Buster goofs off with Steven Curtis Chapman at a concert at Union.

2003

Buster takes a break from cheering in this 2007 photo

2007

The current suit has a distinctly “fierce” look, presumably to intimidate our opponents. Buster is much more than a cheerleader at games. You can find him mingling with the Union family at big events such as move-in day and Union Night, and he is always willing to goof around with anyone.

Buster works the crowd in the left photo and helps on Move-in Day in the right photo.

2009 and 2011

Buster gets the crowd excited during the NAIA tournament.

2011

Buster the Bulldog leads the crowd in cheers when the NCAA logo is unveiled at Union Night, Sept. 28.

2013

If you have photos of Buster during your years at Union, we would love to see them! Share them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag Union University.

 

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