Twirling on stage is an American tradition. Dan Decator Emmett from Mt. Vernon, Ohio, is credited with creating minstrel shows. Comedy men featured in their acts "cake walks and walk-a-round" whereby a minstrel man would lead a group around chairs on stage with a cane or baton doing antics. Twirling a stick with a ball on the end became popular. Featured baton twirling acts became more popular in burlesque theatres and circuses throughout the country by 1900. Drum majors in regimental bands attempting to gain recognition during the teens and twenties adopted the current theatrical style of twirling.
Larry Cory (OSUMB drum major 1957-58) was the first drum major to put on a floor show in St. John Arena, bringing the crowd to its feet. Performing on a gymnasium floor in front of 8,000 spectators under difficult lighting and close surroundings requires raw courage, especially with a steel baton.