November 25, 2017

#TBT: College Sports Mascots

A look at how our favorite sports mascots first began

Today’s Throwback Thursday take us to an era where children may have been a little less open to getting a picture with their favorite mascot. From birds to animals to trees (what?) mascots have been a part of sports since their creation, but have definitely become far more inviting creatures in the modern era. While many facets of life could be argued that the “good ole days” were much better, sports mascots have definitely evolved for the better since their early roots.

Birds

Someone must have had a vendetta against avian varieties, because bird mascots were less than welcoming in their earlier days. I mean, can’t they at least smile?

Herky the Hawk has graced the sidelines and stands at University of Iowa events since 1948. (Courtesy of the University of Iowa)
Herky the Hawk has graced the sidelines and stands at University of Iowa events since 1948. (Courtesy of the University of Iowa)

 

Herky looks mad at the refs. I guess we know where Fran McCaffery gets it from. (UI Archives)
Herky looks mad at the refs. I guess we know where Fran McCaffery gets it from. (UI Archives)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see above, Herky the Hawk has been on the sidelines at Kinnick Stadium since 1948. Unlike most baby boomers, I think it can be safely said that Herky has become more beautiful with age. I hope he’s a little less angry too.

Jay, Baby Jay and Herbie the Husker meet prior to a game between Kansas and Nebraska, October 17, 1971 (Courtesy of KU Archives)
Big Jay, Baby Jay and Herbie the Husker meet prior to a game between Kansas and Nebraska, October 17, 1971 (Courtesy of KU Archives)

Big Jay and Baby Jay have been widely popular at University of Kansas sporting events since the 1960s. At least they look happy in this early 70s photo with Herbie the Husker. I can’t imagine how much neck pain Herbie the Husker had in this photo… look at the size of that head.

Cy the Cardinal seen with cheerleaders, circa 1954. (Courtesy of ISU Archives)
Cy the Cardinal seen with cheerleaders, circa 1954. (Courtesy of ISU Archives)

Cy was voted the most dominant mascot in America in 2009, but I struggle to see this rendition of Cy as capable of dominating anything. At least the Iowa State cheerleaders kept him company instead of the throngs of children who follow him today.

 

Political Figures

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The University of Alabama’s mascot meets President Ronald Reagan. (Courtesy of the Associated Press)

As you can see above, nothing quite welcomes a sitting US President quite like a college kid dressed in a smelly old elephant costume. Roll Tide Ronnie, Roll Tide.

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Oregon’s first duck mascot. (Courtesy of TheHundreds.com)

Who knew that a mascot could provide inspiration for the hair style of a future presidential candidate? Who knew.

 

Mascots with only a head

Sparty the Mascot at a Michigan State Football Game (courtesy of the Lansing State Journal)
Sparty the Mascot at a Michigan State Football Game (courtesy of the Lansing State Journal)

Some schools have decided over time that they only need a headdress to fill their mascot needs. Similar to Herbie the Husker above, I struggle to imagine what a chiropractor bill would be if Sparty’s head was this much bigger than his body.

Willie the Wildcat over time (Courtesy of KState.com)
Willie the Wildcat over time (Courtesy of KState.com)

Willie the Wildcat has remained just a head for many years, as he often sports a uniform or jersey of the team that is playing during that day. I hope he gets that skin condition figured out on his cheek. Looks rough.

 

Just plain weird…

TCU's Horned Frog mascot at a TCU Basketball game (Courtesy of the TCU Library)
TCU’s Horned Frog mascot at a TCU Basketball game (Courtesy of the TCU Library)

If recent success of the TCU Basketball was any indication of what is going on here, I’d probably have this same facial expression too. I’m not sure what is worse… the game score or getting a picture with this mascot.

The Stanford Tree (Courtesy of realclearsports.com)
The Stanford Tree (Courtesy of realclearsports.com)

No mascot piece is complete without the Stanford Tree. Whether in the 70s or today, this tree is flat out creepy and makes me second guess hiking through forests worldwide.

The Old Kewpie Mascot (Courtesy of the Quad City Times)
The Old Kewpie Mascot (Courtesy of the Quad City Times)

I have no words.

 

Good night everyone; I hope you can sleep.

Travis Halm 27 Articles

Staff Writer

Travis Halm is an Iowa State Alum living in Omaha, Nebraska. A native of Haverhill, Iowa, Travis has lived throughout the Midwest and in Texas, providing him insight on the Big 12, the SEC, and a wide variety of other sports topics. Travis follows the Cyclones closely, in addition to the Cardinals, Packers, Texas A&M and rarely turns down a ticket to a good sporting event.

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