Butch Bruno – The Brown Mascot

Brown is in some ways the most below-the-radar of the Ivy League schools and the hardest to find quality football programs from.

The Brown mascot is a bear whose nickname is “Butch Bruno”.  For sixty years (between 1906 and 1966) Brown used a live bear as a mascot at their games. The various mascot bears (Butch Bruno I through XIV) lived in a cage beneath the stadium and for road games were often housed in local jails as a safety precaution.

Some of the more interesting ivy league football program covers depicting Butch are below.  His heyday on the covers were in the 1950s:

Columbia v. Brown 1959:

Yale v. Brown 1958:

Penn v. Brown 1950:

Penn v. Brown 1966:

The bear as a mascot for Brown University has its origins in 1904 when T.F. Green placed a real bear’s head above the arch in the trophy room in Rockefeller Hall.  Green was a Brown graduate (1887) and a U.S. Senator and said that he chose the bear as the symbol for Brown because “while it may be somewhat unsociable and uncouth, it is good natured and clean. While courageous and ready to fight, it does not look for trouble for its own sake, nor is it bloodthirsty. It is not one of a herd, but acts independently. It is intelligent and capable of being educated (if caught youngenough!) It is a good swimmer and a good digger, like an athlete who makes Phi Beta Kappa. Furthermore its color is brown; and its name is Brown.”

In a tragic incident Bruno V was walked on the field in December of 1939 just prior to a game and died on the field. The tradition of live mascots was discontinued in 1966 during the start of the political correctness era because it was felt cruel to have a chained animal.

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