As a Baptist College in North Carolina, Wake Forest athletic teams were originally known as the “Baptists” or “The Old Gold and Black”, and they sported a tiger for a mascot. However, during the 1923 season, the editor of the school newspaper created the alliteration “Demon Deacons” to describe how the Baptists played in a major win over Duke (then Trinity). Henry Belk, the school’s publicity director, liked the phrase and incorporated the nickname into his press releases. With the Baptists in the midst of their first winning season in 30 years, newspapers from around the country started to proclaim the success of the Demon Deacons, and the name stood.
“We wanted him to be more dignified than other mascots”
It was nearly 20 years before a mascot appeared and the first mascot started as a fraternity dare. Jack Baldwin was dared by a few of his fraternity brothers to dress up as a Demon Deacon for an athletic contest against North Carolina.
“Some of my fraternity brothers and I were just sitting around one evening and came to the agreement that what Wake Forest needed was someone dressed like a deacon — top hat, tails, a black umbrella and all that,” Baldwin recalled. “We wanted him to be more dignified than other mascots, sort of like an old Baptist Deacon would dress.”
Baldwin proceeded to ride into the match on a Carolina Ram, umbrella in hand. For the Wake Forest fans, it was love at first sight. When Baldwin graduated, many interested students were willing to continue dressing up as the mascot. Initially, the responsibility to pick new Demon Deacons fell on Baldwin’s fraternity, but later it broadened to include all students. Today, tryouts are held annually for new Deacons, and the competition is intense.
Since Baldwin first rode in on the Carolina Ram, the Demon Deacon has lent sophistication and spirit that some say can only be found at Wake Forest. In the 1950s it was climbing and hanging from goalposts to dropping drawers in the 1960s. From riding a unicycle in the 1970s to a gold and black motorcycle today, the Demon Deacon represents the passion and enthusiasm that is shared across the Wake Forest family.
97 Days Until College Football Kicks Off!
Our countdown started Tuesday with the history of different school mascots:
Today – Demon Deacons