Texas Tech's Masked Rider is no Lone Ranger


When the Red Raider mascot became official in 1936, a mysterious and colorful symbol of the
university's pride and spirit rode into the hearts of Tech faithful.  The mascot known as the Masked
Rider, rides a quarter horse while he leads the team on to the field.  His outfit creates mystique with
the combination of black riding clothes, mask, bolero hat and a red cape.
Tech students called Ghost Riders started the Masked Rider tradition in 1936.  They were given the
ghoulish reference because no one knew the rider’s identity combined with how the mascot entered
the stadium in mysterious fashion.  Out of no where the Masked Rider would appear at home football
games, circle the field at full speed and then disappear for the rest of the game.  
The Masked Rider created quite a stir when Tech played in the Gator Bowl following the 1953
season.  The charge on to the field by Tech players who were led by man and horse prompted Atlanta
Constitution sports writer Ed Danforth to describe what he believed was a grand moment that was
"typically Texas."  He wrote: "The dramatic entry by the horse and rider electrified the crowd as well
as the team, which beat Auburn 35-13.  No team in any bowl game ever made a more sensational
This mascot was designed to compliment the efforts of the Masked Rider after a rule was passed by
the Southwest Conference prior to the 1971 season that affected the Tech mascot.  The ruling
prevented conference members from taking live animals to road games unless the school received
permission from the home team.
Because Raider Red came to life in costume form, he was able to represent the university on the
road and at Tech's indoor events.  The shotgun bearing, mustached cowboy character was
developed from the drawings by the late Lubbock cartoonist Dirk West.  Jim Gaspard, a member of
the Tech booster club, the Saddle Tramps, was credited with creating the mascot character from the
Raider Red who somewhat resembles the cartoon character Yosemite Sam, delights fans by
mingling and shaking hands throughout the game.  He also ignites excitement when he fires powder
filled blanks with his two 12-gauge shotguns after a Tech touchdown or field goal.                  
"Guns up" is a hand sign that Tech faithful flash at games.  The gesture that originated in 1972, is
made by extending the index finger outward while extending the thumb upward to form a gun.  When
you go "Guns up" you're urging Raider Red to shoot down his opponents.
The student who portrays the role of Raider Red is kept secret from Tech fans.  Red once had a
partner named Arena Rita, but the two have since parted since Rita was never accepted by Tech


Possible nicknames for Texas Tech athletic teams seemed to swirl through West Texas more like a
Texas tornado in the 1920s.  The nickname "Dogies" was an early favorite suggested by the Fort
Worth Star-Telegram.  
A feline symbol was the choice of State Representative R. A. Baldwin, a man who was largely
responsible for the creation of Texas Tech. He is reported to have said after a vote was taken to
create the institution, "We'll call the Tech football team the "Texas Tom Cats"
When the first football team hit the field in 1925 they were called the Matadors thanks to a
suggestion from head coach E. Y. Freeland's wife.   The idea was influenced by the Spanish
architectural influence on the Lubbock campus.  
The school's red uniforms combined with a tremendous 10-2 season in 1932 helped shift the
nickname in its current position thanks to a description written by a local sportswriter.    The
Lubbock Avalanche Journal's Collier Parris wrote: "The Red Raiders from Texas Tech, terror of the
Southwest this year, swooped in the New Mexico University camp today."  The new name soared in
popularity and by 1936 had gored the life out of the Matadors nickname.
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