Florida Gators icon George Edmondson, better known as Mr. Two Bits, dies at 97

By Adam Silverstein
July 4, 2019
Florida Gators icon George Edmondson, better known as Mr. Two Bits, dies at 97

Image Credit: UAA

A fixture at Florida Gators football games for 60 years, George Edmondson delighted fans at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with his signature cheer before kickoff and stood as a trademark piece of the team’s gameday experience. Over a decade after he formally retired from his seasonal appearances at Florida Field, the man better known as “Mr. Two Bits” died Tuesday at age 97.

Edmondson, whose effort to get Gator Nation cheering at every home game began when he attended Florida Field as a fan in 1949, eventually rose to prominence as Mr. Two Bits. Before every game, he would stand at midfield dressed in his signature yellow button-down shirt, white-and-blue seersucker and orange-and-blue tie, blow his whistle and begin a chant that was echoed and repeated throughout the stadium. “Two-bits, four-bits, six-bits, a dollar,” he would yell while gesturing to different parts of the stadium. “All for the Gators, stand up and holler!”

That midfield tradition began in the 1970s, more than two decades after he began the chant as a member of the crowd who would move from one section of the stadium to the other attempting to get the fans riled up. Once Edmondson became a pregame fixture for the Gators, he would still make his way into the crowd to repeat the chant throughout the game, though those appearances were fewer and further between as the years went on.

It was in 2008 when Edmondson decided to hang up his whistle for good at age 86. His final game cheering on Florida came against The Citadel, which just so happened to be the same program against whom he originated the chant back in 1949. The Gators never paid Edmondson for his cheerleading, though they did gift him season tickets and have honored him in numerous ways over the last few decades.

“For generations of Florida football fans, doing the Two Bits cheer led by George was part of the fabric of their day cheering on the Gators,” said Jeremy Foley, the athletic director emeritus at Florida, in a statement released by the school. “All of Gator Nation will remember George for his enthusiasm, dedication and love for Florida and how he willingly shared that love.”

Edmondson served as a fighter pilot for the Navy during World War II and spent his post-military career in Tampa, Florida, where he sold insurance. Though he never attended the University of Florida as a student before joining the Navy, he has been named an honorary alumnus by UF, a distinction he was given in 2005. He is also an honorary letter winner in the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame.

In the years since Edmondson’s retirement, the Mr. Two Bits tradition has continued, primarily with former Gators student-athletes dressing like Edmondson and performing his iconic chant. Mascots Albert and Alberta, along with various students, have also served as Mr. Two Bits.

There will be a “celebration of life” held in honor of Edmonson this August in Tampa, according to the University Athletic Association. Florida fans will be invited to attend the ceremony.

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