|Click Images to Enlarge
|1916 Cornell Michigan Football Game Postcard
and, 1916 Real Photo Postcard RPPC (J.P. Troy)
|History of the Cornell Mascot 'Touchdown'
The first mascot at Cornell was a black bear that the Cornell University Athletic Association (CUAA) acquired in the fall of 1915. The CUAA spent
twenty-five dollars, excluding shipping costs, raised by the revenue from season ticket sales to purchase the bear. The bear was purchased after the manager
of the football team received a letter from an animal trainer in Old Town, Maine. This year also marked the first year Cornell football went undefeated,
which led to fans believing that Touchdown was a good omen.
Touchdown appeared at all of the games played by the Cornell football team that year. At the games, Touchdown was tethered to a stepladder so that he
could climb on the home sideline of the field. He also climbed a goal post before each game, which quickly became a tradition for the fans.
At the Harvard game of 1915, Touchdown traveled with the team to Cambridge, Massachusetts. The night before the game, Touchdown was sleeping in a
cage in the lobby of the Lenox Hotel, per request of the manager of the hotel. At four o'clock in the morning of the game, several Harvard students stole
Touchdown by posing as caretakers of the bear giving Touchdown a routine morning walk.Touchdown was found later that morning by Cornell's trainer
who heard cries coming from Harvard's baseball cage. Touchdown was only retrieved, however, after a posse of Cornell athletic managers stole the keys to
the cage from a Harvard janitor who refused to open it without orders from Harvard football manager. The janitor was reprimanded by being locked in an
office. Later that day at the game, the Cornell football team defeated the Crimson, ending Harvard's thirty-game winning streak in football.
The next week, the football team took a trip to Atlantic City before the big Thanksgiving game against the University of Pennsylvania. At this point in the
season, Touchdown had begun go into hibernation and was less vivacious than he was earlier in the season. When Touchdown was woken to pose for
pictures with the football team on a boardwalk at Atlantic City, he instead ran into the nearest door open. After running wild in a taffy shop, Touchdown
escaped down a pier and jumped into the ocean.Two football players, Booty Hunkin and Walt Lalley, used a life raft with no paddles to rescue Touchdown
who was unable to swim. Touchdown walked back to the hotel alone.
Touchdown was deeper into the beginning stages of hibernation at the Thanksgiving Day football game. U Penn had brought either a coyote or a husky to
the game, and walked it over to meet Touchdown right before the game started. When Penn's mascot came close enough, Touchdown smacked it across the
face and knocked it out. Cornell went on to defeat Penn 24-9 during the game.
After the season was over, the football team had to make a decision about the fate of Touchdown. Although there was some talk about sending him to a zoo
in Rome, the bear was eventually sent back to Old Town, Maine, where he lived the rest of his life.