A Rebel Debut

Rumor had it that Rebel was to make an appearance at some point this weekend. He did Saturday at Oxford-University Stadium.

He is supposed to be called Rebel, not Rebel Bear or Rebel the Bear or Rebel the Black Bear.

Just Rebel. As in Ole Miss Rebel.

Rebel was to meet kids at a Rebel Kid's Club event in the left field pavilion area. About 3:30 p.m., there was Rebel, walking up the sidewalk toward the patio area. Some kids were around. So was some security.

A few were clapping and acknowledging. Nobody was really making any kind of spectacle about the moment, the first appearance for Rebel outside a couple of children's hospital visits.

Most were just watching and walking quietly. Maybe that's what happens when it's been eight years since there's been a mascot at Ole Miss sports events. Maybe that's what happens when there are obviously those not in favor of it. Some could be heard as he got close to the patio area.

Rebel on the baseball diamond
Bruce Newman
"Boooooooo" over and over came the audible voices of a couple of middle-aged men. Just a couple. Others may have felt the same way and didn't respond.

But a lot of folks seemed OK with Rebel, high-fived him, hugged him, and had their picture made with him, especially the kids.

Rebel stayed a while and then made his way down to the playing field with all the kids gathered. There was no grand announcement. He just led the way. And there he was.

Rebel made a soft entrance into the Ole Miss athletics scene.

"That's what our mascot is. It's just more about the kids," said Michael Thompson, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Communications and Marketing. "We didn't need to have some big to-do. All we had to do was just be there. And that kind of set the stage for everything. That's how we've gone about launching and how we've been successful."

Thompson said there won't be a grand moment or announcement for Rebel. He is now a part of the fabric of Ole Miss.

"We may have him out there for promotions on the field between innings, things like that," he said, noting that Rebel would be back for more baseball games this season. "Other than that, his role is to get the kids excited and when football rolls around to get the crowd excited."

Thompson said he went into the day not really knowing how it would go.

"I was open-minded, but there really wasn't any negativity," he said. "There were like three guys that were negative early on. But I thought it went extraordinarily well. Really, it was awesome."

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