Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
A few weeks ago, when Extra Points was on the cusp of reaching 5,000 free subscribers, I announced a content. Once the newsletter hit 5,000 subs, I'd give away three prize-packs, with one of the prizes being the ability to pick a future newsletter topic.
One of the contest winners is a practicing veterinarian, and suggested I dig into the archives and find some weird stories about live mascots.
There are so many of these stories, way more than can be published in a single newsletter. Feel free to send me some of the wildest stories from your favorite school, and I'll share them on Twitter, or perhaps compile them for another newsletter.
But for now, let this serve as an exceptionally truncated and incomplete collection of wild stories from university library archives.
Hey, remember that time SMU murdered the Fordham Ram?
There are plenty of stories of live mascots behaving badly, but as best as I can tell, this is the only time a mascot actually flat out murdered another mascot.
SMU's live pony, Pernuna, was named after one of those old patent medicines that was actually just alcohol, probably a bad omen as far as future behavior is concerned. When SMU traveled to face the Fordham Rams, Pernuna reportedly traveled around in a cab, and when Fordham's mascot had the misfortune of wandering a teensy bit too close, Pernuna kicked it to death.
It isn't clear exactly when this happened. The SMU Daily Campus claims the murder came at the hands (er, hooves) of Peruna V, the team's mascot from (1950-1965). I've seen other accounts claim it was the work of Peruna I, from the early 1930s.
Apparently, SMU's horse mascot has a history of bad behavior. According to this essay from the SMU student paper, the pony once kicked the Texas longhorn, and other reports claim it once tried to mount the mascot at Texas Tech. But maybe that bad behavior was justified. According to
I for one am shocked that anything associated with the SMU football program ever failed to follow proper protocols and procedures.
The poor Fordham Ram has had a rough go of things.
Friends, let us consult the history of Rameses, the Fordham Ram, via our friends at the Fordham University library. What, perchance, happened to the first Fordham Ram?
Goodness. That's brutal. Surely the next Ram fared better?
What the hell?!?
It's one thing to kidnap a mascot. That's happened to animals across the country since the start of mascots. But to murder not one, but two?!
There are conflicting newspaper reports about exactly how each ram died. This 1930 story from the Brooklyn Times Union claims that Rameses I was hit by a train in 1927, and that Rameses II was sent to a slaughterhouse (with no mention of any kidnappings). Rameses III, according to the newspaper story, tried to butt some local dogs so hard that he somehow strangled himself?
The official university library's account suggests that the animal the Times Union thought was Rameses I was actually Rameses III. The university claims that Rameses III was actually executed by the Fordham Rifle Team for the unpardonable crime of attacking New York's trains and causing traffic delays.
So even if some reports got the exact name of the ram wrong...still! What an absolutely brutal run for a live animal mascot. This is apparently not a gig that lets you retire, or even expire via natural causes.
Even if future versions of the mascot weren't sent off to the slaughterhouse or otherwise meeting some untimely demise, they weren't always the most well-behaved animals. Here's a newspaper account from 1935 that takes a surprisingly jovial tone towards a mascot basically just assaulting a random woman?
But hey, the news wasn't ALL bad, right?
Sometimes schools showed very bad judgement in picking mascots
Plenty of schools have decided to use live bears or live tigers as mascots, despite the fact that a crowded college football game is about as far away from the ideal habitat of a deadly animal as you can get. Even if everything goes perfectly well at the stadium, college students, being college students, will be tempted to do something stupid. Like kidnap a tiger.
Or maybe you'll be tempted to do something stupid. Like feeding live bears Dr.Pepper. For like, decades.
But setting aside such terrible judgement, you can understand why a school named the bears might decide to procure a bear mascot.
But occasionally, schools decided to go out and get themselves a completely different animal.
Let us recall the time Wisconsin got themselves a raccoon to be their mascot.
The University of Wisconsin's athletic programs are not called the raccoons. Nor are they nicknamed anything that might be reasonably construed as a raccoon, like say, a Trash Panda. They're the badgers, a completely different animal.
But as anybody who has ever watched like, ten minutes of a David Attenborough documentary could tell you, badgers are mean. Wisconsin attempted to have a live badger mascot, but frustrated with their inability to prevent the badger from doing badger things (i.e biting everybody), they shipped off to the zoo.
There are many unanswered questions here. Why did anybody think a raccoon would be an acceptable replacement for a badger? How did this enterprising young man domesticate a raccoon, and furthermore, why? Who thought naming the dang thing "Regdab" (that's badger spelled backwards) was a good idea? How do you even get a raccoon in a sweater?
Anyway, Regdab only lasted a year, and Wisconsin moved to the person-dressed-as-a-badger we all know and love today.
This isn't a live mascot, but I think it is very important that I share this link anyway.
Look. Having a live mascot is complicated, messy and dangerous.
If you're gonna do it, just keep it simple. Just pick a good dog.
If you enjoyed this newsletter, you'll really enjoy the full Extra Points experience. Full subscribers get four newsletters in their inbox every week, plus access to our special subscribers-only Discord channel.
You can become a full subscriber and support independent media for just $8/mo, or $75 for an entire year. If you're a college student or have a university email address, you're probably eligible for a 50% discount on any subscriptions. And if you listen to our podcast, Going For Two, you just might find a discount code there as well.
If you can't swing a subscription right now but want to help support Extra Points, sharing the newsletter with your friends is the best way to do it. And hey, you're always welcome to throw in a dollar or two in the ol' FOIA fund.
Today's newsletter is sponsored by the Athletic Giving Handbook
Today's newsletter is also sponsored by The Daily Upside.
The Daily Upside is a business newsletter that covers the most important stories in business in a style that’s engaging, insightful, and fun. Since most investment news sources are full of inaccessible jargon and fluff, it's great to have resources like the Daily Upside that strip away the clutter, and give you the information you need, how you need it.
You can subscribe, completely for free, right here. Please note, this is an advertisement, and Extra Points does earn a commission if you sign up for this free newsletter.
For information about sponsoring Extra Points newsletters and podcasts, drop me a line at Sales@ExtraPointsmb.com. For FOIA suggestions, story ideas, article feedback, podcasting booking and more, I'm at Matt@ExtraPointsMB.com, or @MattBrownEP on Twitter dot com.