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Take a look at the top hat and umbrella once worn by Ed Stanfield (WFC ’49), the second Demon Deacon mascot ever to take field and court at Wake Forest College. The artifacts were kindly donated by his son, Vic Stanfield, of Clemmons, North Carolina.
The Demon Deacon identity reaches back almost a century, beginning with a student reporter in 1922 who, riffing on existing references to the “Baptists” and “Old Gold and Black,” created the character with the invention of the alliterative team name while writing about the basketball game. But it took Jack Baldwin (WFC ’43) to bring the mascot to life. On a dare from his fraternity brothers, who helpfully supplied the original props, Baldwin was first to don the costume, making his debut in 1941. (The idea was to let WFC’s mascot appear a little more dignified than others, something resembling an old Baptist Deacon.)
Baldwin’s characterization was an unmitigated success, leading to a long, colorful history of student mascots tweaking the Demon Deacon’s iconic appearance, spirit and antics. In the 1950s, two successive Deacons learned to climb goal posts in football cleats. Demon Deacon Bill Shepherd (WFC ’60) raised the bar with baton twirling and a great basketball shot.
But back when Ed Stanfield proudly put on this hat and umbrella, high theatrics weren’t necessary. World War II had just ended. Times were simpler, college sports smaller and the national stage of ACC athletics still several years away. Stanfield’s Demon Deacon would have needed only to embody the giddy self-confidence of the postwar years. His job as mascot was to usher in a modern vision of what WFC could become.
And that’s what he did… helping build the foundation of Wake Forest’s winning tradition with all the comic courage an old Baptist Deacon could muster.