Pistol Pete at 60: Facts behind the Face of OSU
Pistol Pete is among most iconic mascots in all of college sports. As we celebrate Pete, who became Oklahoma State's official mascot 60 academic years ago, we go behind the mask and share a few facts about the familiar face:
• Two students are selected to be Pistol Pete each academic year, splitting duties and appearances equally. That hasn’t always been the case. For many years, one Pistol Pete was selected along with one alternate who stepped in as needed.
• Pistol Pete is selected through an application and interview process. There are usually between 10 and 20 applicants at the start of the process, which is held each spring for the following academic year, and the group is eventually narrowed down to a top five. Even though Pistol Pete now falls under the purview of the OSU athletic department, the entire selection process is overseen by members of the Pistol Pete Alumni.
• There are two Pistol Pete heads. As the number of appearances skyrocketed — last year’s Petes did about 700 events combined — it became necessary to have two heads instead of sharing one.
• Until the early 1970s, Pistol Pete’s head was made of plaster of paris and weighed about 50 pounds. The move to fiberglass reduced the weight of the head to about 44 pounds. Today, the fiberglass mask weighs about 40 pounds.
• Pistol Pete will be sporting a new head in the fall. Laser-cut masks made out of fiberglass will debut for the 2019-20 season.
• Occasionally, Pistol Pete gets dinged. Or scratched. Or even dented. When the mascot’s head needs repair, it is taken to Lillie Solomon, a puppeteer who long lived in Tulsa but now lives in Stillwater. The 89-year-old has given Pete facelifts regularly for four decades.
• Seeing out of Pistol Pete's head was made easier a few years back. For decades, the only view was through the mesh of Pete's eyes, but Solomon decided to drill a small hole in Pete's chin. It is an invaluable view for Pete, who is regularly approached by children shorter than the sightline from the mascot's eyes.
- Related to this story
- Article: Being Pistol Pete: All have big boots to fill, but for one, he simply wanted to be like his dad
- Article: Pistol Pete’s one face produces many stories
- Article: Pistol Pete at 60: Unmasking the 89 young men who wore the head
- Article: Five significant moments in Pistol Pete’s history
- Article: Who was Frank Eaton, the inspiration for OSU mascot Pistol Pete?
• Today’s Pistol Petes are provided their entire wardrobe by the athletic department, from the top of Pete’s hat to the tip of their specially made OSU spurs. But for many years, the men inside the Pistol Pete costume had to for provide everything, including the gunpowder they carried to fill the blanks shot out of Pete’s gun.
Jenni Carlson, Columnist