I had never been asked to autograph a mini helmet, much less anything else—this was before The Autobiography of Brutus Buckeye was even a sparklet of an idea. Bart Freidenberg’s call in 2013 was unexpected. I asked: “What exactly is a mini helmet?,” “Why are you asking for a Brutus-related autograph?,” and “Do you sell these?” Satisfied with Bart’s answers, and the novelty of the request, I agreed. I would sign, then send the helmet to Brutus’s co-creator Ray Bourhis.

Parents (co-creators) of Brutus the Buckeye: Sally Lanyon and Ray Bourhis.

Thus begun a long-distance relationship between Bart and myself. Our shared interest: the early Brutus Buckeye alumni. His special talent: People Finder.

Kerry Reed

Mike Caporal

Tom Sherer

Alan J. Kundtz

Dave Hocevar

Bart the Wrestling Manager Extraordinaire

Bart was never a mascot, never Brutus. He was a sports fan who had a knack for managing sports teams. At Bexley High School, he managed the wrestling, track and soccer teams in addition to his tenure as a Thespian and writing for the school’s newspaper, the Torch. At Ohio State, his side gig to being a Journalism major, was head manager of the wrestling team from 1979 – 1982.
1981-82 Ohio State Wrestling Team. Bart Freidenberg, Manager, Row 3, 2nd from Right.
After graduation, Bart’s passion for sports and his ability to manage trumped his journalism bent. Bart’s award-winning wrestling teams have traveled throughout the USA and to Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Bart’s special contribution to wrestling is as Founder of the Ohio Tournament of Champions, celebrating its 32nd anniversary. It is not some rumdum hohum event. It has been named the #1 Youth Wrestling Tournament in the USA and is part of the “Ultimate Triple Crown” of youth wrestling. Wow!

Bart the Collector

When I learned that Bart has over 3,300 autographed helmets, I asked how his penchant started. Bart said, “I’ve been an autograph hound since childhood.” His father died when he was six. A cousin from California went home and arranged for an autographed photo from President Harry S. Truman be sent to young Bart. After that it was an autograph here and there, from the likes of Bart Starr and Jack Nicklaus. Soon he had a budding hobby.

Dave Harris

Tim Brown

Jack Tamburello

So why mini helmets? They were a wrestling tournament gimmick one year, Bart explained. He liked the look and began adding them to his paper/photo autograph collection. Focusing on a variety of sports figures at first, his acquisitions have expanded into non-sports arenas.

Ohio State grads who have been kind enough to add their John Hancock to the not-so-easy-to-write-on objects include: 

  • Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf, golf
  • John Glenn, astronaut, Senator
  • Richard Lewis and Patricia Heaton, actors
  • Jack Buck, sportscaster
  • Paul Ebert, renowned pediatric heart surgeon, Ohio State All American athlete
  • Jim Jinkins, animator/writer, creator of Doug
  • R.L. Stine, children’s literature, Goosebumps series
  • George Steinbrenner, owner, New York Yankees

Bart the Brutus Finder

Bart’s focus on mascots started with Brutus, understandably, and includes the first two Stanford trees, the first Auburn Aubie, and the first Western Kentucky Big Red. At some point, Bart decided to expand his Brutus collection to all the early Brutus alter egos. For that I am grateful. Bart’s people finding skills have helped me in my search for the early Brutii. My passion has been to write the stories of the individuals who helped evolve Brutus to his prominent status today. When I can’t find someone, I contact Bart, who makes the search task seem easy. He has Super Sleuth powers. Thank you, Bart Freidenberg, for your undercover part in Brutus’s history!
Photo Permissions:
Bart Freidenberg, 1982 MAKIO