Ferris State's Bulldog Lapel Pins Become A Source Of Pride
Where did you get that wonderful Bulldog lapel pin?
A frequent question asked by many to those associated with Ferris State University, who proudly display the Bulldog lapel pin on their suits, sportscoats, shirts, ties, etc. at various university functions and events.
The answers may vary to a degree but the origin of the Bulldog lapel pin is a question which is rarely answered simply because almost no one ever asks . . . at least until now.
The origins of the Bulldog lapel pin date back to more than 40 years ago.
The year was 1968 and the Ferris State College football team achieved a feat no previous Bulldog gridiron squad had ever accomplished by becoming the first undefeated football squad in school history.
The ledgendary 1968 team, under the direction of then second-year head coach and Ferris State Athletics Hall of Fame member Bob Leach, compiled an impressive 7-0-1 record and concluded the season with seven consecutive victories.
As a result of their lofty accomplishment, the 1968 Bulldogs were recognized throughout the FSC campus, local community, alumni, friends and fans. Robert P. Gerholz, a 1916 graduate of Ferris Institute and a classmate of Abigail Timme, wanted to show his appreciation and contacted Coach Leach to congratulate him. Gerholz, who like Leach hailed from Flint, Mich., operated a highly-successful real estate business and was a builder of home developments in the Flint area.
Mr. Gerholz, who the Gerholz Institute for Lifelong Learning is named after, was at the time a board member of the Mack Truck Company and also served as chairman of the FSC Board of Control (1967-82). The Bulldog was the official mascot for both organizations so Mr. Gerholz asked Coach Leach how many Bulldog pins would you like and Leach replied 1,000 sir. The Mack Truck Company produced small lapel pins with the word "Mack" on the collar and sent the pins to Coach Leach in bags.
The lapel pins which Coach Leach received were distributed to athletes, parents, and friends of the college. Later, Coach Leach or "Mr. Bulldog" as he was commonly known gave pins to faculty members to reward students for outstanding work and achievements. The Ferris State Alumni Office also utilized the pins, which were changed to read "FSU", for alumni attending various functions while the University handed them out to graduating students at commencement.
In the early 1990's, former FSU President Dr. Helen Popovich implemented "silver" Bulldog lapel pins created for the purpose of giving to donors who contributed monies at the 50K level or more.
A humorous story associated with the Bulldog Lapel pin as told by Ferris State football alumnus ('70-73) Ron Coppess involved former FSC Athletics Director Dr. Herbert D. "Pete" Peterson, who served in that capacity from 1964-79. Coppess was a student aide in the Bulldog Athletics department at the time under Peterson's direction. Peterson was attending an athletic director's conference in St. Louis, Mo., and was staying in the same hotel as those who were attending a Mack Truck Convention. Peterson struck up a conversation with some of the Mack Truck Convention attendees in an elevator who noticed him wearing one of their lapel pins. Peterson along with the Mack Truck group proceeded to step into a limousine which took them to an after-dinner social event at a mansion which hosted several Mack Truck Company executives. Peterson unknowingly arrived at the mansion and considered this function to be a pair of the athletic director's conference. Peterson, like those also in attendance, were wearing Mack Truck lapel pins signifying the "Bulldog" on their suits and sportcoats. A conversation enused before Peterson realized he was at the wrong event, but he continued his friendly chat with the company executives and their common association with the "Bulldog" lapel pin helped the FSC with the purchase of a Mack Truck bus.