Big Bertha became the “SWEETHEART OF THE LONGHORN BAND” in 1955. Now over 90 years old, her dimensions (eight feet in diameter, forty-one inches wide, and over 10 feet high when mounted on her carriage) make Bertha a focal point at public appearances.
Bertha was created by C.G. Conn, Ltd., for the University of Chicago, and began her long and famous career at the Princeton-Chicago football game on October 23, 1922. When the University of Chicago dropped varsity football in 1939, Bertha went into storage beneath the University of Chicago stadium, and was subsequently returned to C.G. Conn. In 1954, Colonel D. Harold Byrd, a long-time benefactor of the Longhorn Band, suggested that the drum be purchased from the University of Chicago and given a new and glorious home in the heart of Texas. Mr. Moton Crockett, former Director of the Longhorn Band, purchased Bertha for $1 and transported the drum from Elkhart, Indiana to Austin, Texas. Mr. Crockett refurbished the drum during the spring and summer of 1955, and presented it to incoming Director of the Longhorn Band, Vincent R. DiNino. Today, Bertha can be seen in her permanent home in the north end zone concourse of DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium. For her performances at football games, she is escorted by a group known as the “Bertha Crew”.
Through the continuing generosity of Mr. Crockett, Big Bertha has received substantial refurbishment on two occasions – 1998, and again in 2007. As she closes in on her 100th year, Big Bertha stands tall, booms loud, and proudly exhibits a storied and colorful history.