Upper Deck has an ongoing College Manufactured Patch cards series. The last two years they included school mascots and this year the patches represent school tributes. I picked up the University of Arizona’s “Bear Down” tribute patch last week. I had been watching the prices of the card since the 2014 Upper Deck Football release and fortunately the prices have been dropping but seemed to hit a plateau around $5 and I almost bought one but decided to wait instead. I am glad I waited, this card cost me $2.99 shipped so I got a nice deal on a great addition to my University of Arizona collection.
The “Bear Down” tradition comes from the death of a University of Arizona student-athlete, John Byrd Salmon. Salmon was the student body President and a multi-sport athlete as the football team’s QB and the baseball team’s catcher. Following the opening game of the 1926 football season Salmon and two other students headed to Phoenix for a visit, on the way back during the evening of October 3, 1926 Salmon crashed and rolled the car. The other two passengers survived with minor injuries while Salmon severed his spine and died two weeks later. During Salmon’s time in the hospital Arizona’s football coach Pop McKale visited him daily and on the morning Salmon died on October 18th he told coach McKale “Tell them…tell the team to bear down”.
The term became the team’s rallying cry during the season and was adopted as the school’s slogan in 1927. In 1939 the Arizona State legislature issued a decree that “Bear Down” was the exclusive property of the University of Arizona and in 1986 the school commissioned a statue of John Salmon. Here is an image of the real statue, which does not actually contain a plaque as shown on the patch.
In 2001 the state erected a monument near the site of Salmon’s crash outside of Florence, which does contain a plaque (though in the shape of Arizona). So I am wondering if Upper Deck decided to join the two to create a unique design.