Who is Mr. B?
Elkhart Truth, February 18, 1983
The original drawing of the Elkhart High School/Central High School "Blue Blazers" logo hangs proudly in the schools' athletic office. For some 30 odd years it was stored among Ruth Kell's mementos of her years at EHS of 1954, she lives in El Cerritto, CA. She recently returned the drawing while visiting her parents. The late Howard James, head of the EHS art department, drew the sketch during the 1953-54 basketball season. Mrs. Kell was an art student and colored in James' "Mr. B" drawing. According to legend, James was not excited about making the drawing. So "he designed the ugliest thing he could think of," said Bob Slaughter, former activities director at Central. "He was going to throw it away and she kept it". Before Mrs. Kell took it, the drawing was used to make a plywood cutout to place in the center circle of the North Side Gym during the EHS pre-game warm-up for the 1954 sectional. The team advanced to the state finals, but lost to Muncie Central in the afternoon game. Muncie went on to lose to Milan in one of the greatest upsets in tournament history.
Slaughter said James was asked to draw a school mascot because EHS fans were impressed with the Munice "Bearcat" logo during the regular season. Elkhart fans "decided they wanted some kind of mascot." In time, the little guy on the lighting bolt became known as "Mr. B" after Max Bell, who became the EHS basketball coach in the fall of 1954. Long before EHS had "Blue Blazers" as its nickname, it was called the "Blue Avalanche". The history is a bit hazy, but Slaughter said that the term "Blue Blazers" was coined in the late 1920s by an EHS graduate who was an advertising executive in New York. "The nickname stuck", Slaughter said. Apparently it took a little while for "Mr. B' to gain similar popularity. "They had no idea it would be around 30 years later and would become such a tradition," he said.