Five significant moments in Pistol Pete’s history
With the help of former Pistol Petes Don Giles (1980-82) and Lance Millis (1987-88), The Oklahoman looks back on five significant moments in the Oklahoma State mascot’s history in his 60th academic year.
1923: At a time when Oklahoma A&M student had grown disconnected from the school’s Tigers nickname, deputy U.S. marshal Frank “Pistol Pete” Eaton served as the grand marshal of the 1923 Armistice Day Parade. There, students saw his cowboy hat, his six shooter and his mustache, and the idea for a mascot was born.
1958: In the same year Eaton died at age 97, his likeness became Oklahoma State’s mascot.
Not long before, Oklahoma A&M had become Oklahoma State, and the university changed from Aggies to Cowboys. An official mascot was sought to match the transition.
A committee that included Bill Smith, who eventually became Pistol Pete No. 2, was part of the committee to select Pete as the official mascot, beginning work on a paper-mache head.
Early 1984: The branding of Pete expanded. Dave Martin, a former national champion wrestler at Iowa State and member of OSU’s athletic department, began working to get Pete more funding.
The Petes used to have to reload their bullets shells themselves with tissue paper, and Martin helped the wardrobe get redesigned as well.
This was also around the time a second head was added, simplifying life for two Petes.
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Late 1984: Pistol Pete expanded beyond athletics to the “hub of the campus,” as Giles put it. Pete became a symbol of campus culture, defining what it meant to be an OSU student and a Cowboy or Cowgirl.
This was around the time Pete became a symbol outside of campus, as well. He became a guest at weddings, birthday parties and even funerals, a fixture in how Cowboys and Cowgirls thought of their alma mater.
2000: The rise in technology and social media helped pushed Pistol Pete further into the public eye.
As mascot culture became a larger craze, Pete was at the center of it. From “This is SportsCenter” commercials to NCAA football video games, Pete’s reach extended far beyond Stillwater.