ETSU Mascots

Mascots Through the Years

ETSU has had numerous mascots in its life time. All of them have enriched our athletic experience and our appreciation for school spirit. They range from live animals, to self-made pirate costumes, to full-fledged parrot and pirate suits. ETSU's mascot tradition all started back when ETSU was actually the state teacher's college. Before our athletics' teams adorned the name of "The Teachers" but in 1935 our team name became "The Bucaneers."
One might expect our first mascot to be some variation on our pirate theme, but it was in fact a goat. His name was Captain Kidd. He began his reign in 1950 and was soon replaced with Captain Kidd II in 1957.

After Captain Kidd our school enjoyed multiple Buckys. Each of them wore full pirate garb with usually a sword in their holster and a megaphone in their hand. But they came and went as quickly as the passing of classes.
At the Homecoming game of 1980 a new era of mascot history was hatched, and his name was Pepper the Parrot. He was one of the most notable and beloved of ETSU mascots. According to lore, Pepper's beginning went something like this,
"Once upon a time, on one of the deserted Canary Island, there lived a giant parrot named Pepper. Like most parrots, he had aspirations of playing in the NBA and perhaps having his own line of breakfast cereals. But the big bird had one problem. He wanted to make people happy, but there were no p eople where he lived.

So Pepper packed his suitcase and left his island home. As he flew across the ocean, he was swept up in a hurricane. Pepper, being the strong parrot that he is, fought the storm. Finally, though, he became exhausted and was forced to land. He fell asleep on a sandy beach. When he awoke, he saw a rainbow in the sky. He followed the rainbow to its end at ETSU's blue and yellow Memorial Center. Since that fateful day, Buccaneer fans have laughed and cheered with Pepper, making him a very happy bird."

-Cliff Cristy 1992 yearbook

Then in 1991 Pepper had to learn to share the stage with our newest mascot, Bucky. Although we have had Bucky's in the past, this one was different with his own pirate suit; he was certainly a formidable foe. Bucky tended to play up the tough guy approach to being a mascot as Pepper stuck mainly to the light-hearted and comical side.
 Bucky was known as a womanizer and the kind of guy you would like to party with or at least have with you in case a fight broke out. We welded a sword and for a short time guns.
Finally during the late '90s Pepper was phased out as ETSU's mascot as Bucky took on the responsibility solely. Through more recent years Bucky has had a couple of costumes changes including his most recent change to the blue suit, in 2003. Along with the suit change, Bucky now fills in Pepper's role as both a tough guy and family oriented mascot. Our most recent Bucky also has an interesting history, including why our school is called the Buccaneers.

"Bucky's background begins with the story of the East Tennessee State University nickname -- the Buccaneers. A brief history begins with a Buccaneer, who once roamed a vast area which stretched from the Florida Keys northward. Johnson City, home of ETSU, is located among the mountains of Eastern Tennessee and is a great distance from the ocean.
Bucky2013 For this reason, one might wonder why ETSU would select a Buccaneer as their mascot. The answer is not that simple. Apparently, geologists and archaeologists teamed up and discovered an underground river near the university several years ago. Named Pirate Creek, it evidently winds its way through many subterranean tunnels. It is thought that these caverns at one time channeled all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. Soon after this discovery, the legend of buccaneer, Jean Paul LeBucque was found in history books. The legend tells that LeBucque was a nuisance and terror. Evidently, he was looking for a place to hide his great store of gold and treasure, and find safety for himself. He sailed north in search of a new home and began to look inland.
Legend states that he discovered the underground river near Johnson City and called Pirate Creek his home. Geologists feel that the upheaval of the earth's crust, which now blocks the channel, possibly killed LeBucque. This legend is widely accepted and is one way to explain why an inland school would choose a pirate nickname."

ETSU | Advancement | Alumni | Foundation | Contacts
Alumni Association · Box 70709 · Johnson City, TN 37614
(423) 439-4218 ·