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Years ago, the birth of a mascot

Words on Sport/

David Rothstein->

Years ago,

the birth of

a mascot

A little bit over three-quarters of a century ago, the proposal that the beaver be adapted as the mascot of the Institute was made at the annual dinner of the Technology Club of New York. Lester D. Gardner '98, speaking on behalf of the Technology Club, made the proposal to then-president Richard Maclaurin, and it was immediately accepted.

History tells us that the beaver was selected from a certain Mr. Hornaday's book on the animals of North America. The author wrote: "Of all the animals of the world, the beaver is noted for his engineering and mechanical skill and habits of industry. His habits are nocturnal, he does his best work in the dark."

The beaver was chosen over the kangaroo, which was supposed to go forward in leaps and bounds, just like the Institute. And over the elephant, who is wise, patient, strong, hard-working, and supposed, like all Tech men, to have a good tough hide.

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Now, some fourscore years later, the beaver is better known to us as the Brass Rat, and the only teams that carry the Beaver nickname are the football team and MIT's club sport teams. All others are named the Engineers.

Beavers, somehow, do not conjure up an image of power, prowess or possibility. Maybe rabid, rational, rapid, but not athletic. Besides, it can surely be no compliment to say that our football team does its best work in the dark. (Draw your own conclusion there.)

Then again, the "Massachusetts Institute of Technology . . . Buffalos" just does not have the right ring. Nor the "MIT Wildcats."

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Some schools in the area simply do not have a mascot. Wellesley College simply goes by, well, "Wellesley College," and Harvard University is called "The Crimson."

Wellesley, it appears, never had a mascot, although many have been proposed. In the early 1980s, then-Athletic Director Linda Moulton sponsored a contest in an effort to come up with a suitable team name, something better than "Blue" or "W."

But nothing came of the contest.

"Sometimes it's weird," conceded Teresa Reading, senior co-captain of the Wellesley volleyball team, speaking about Wellesley's having no team name. "Sometimes we wish we had a mascot, but it will probably stay this way."

Many teams pick their own name, said Reading, like the "Blue Sharks." Or the "Blue Herons," a name proposed by women's basketball coach, Roxanne Dale, in honor of the herons that flock to Lake Waban.

How about the Wellesley Blue Hoops?

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Just up the creek, at Harvard University, crimson became the official school color in 1875, after the student body voted to adopt the colors worn by the school's baseball and crew teams. (In fact, the official colors are crimson, black and white.)

Harvard has never had an official mascot although Boston Herald columnist Vic Johnson, sometime in the '50s, penned an image of a Puritan man, supposedly modeled after the statue (not of John Harvard), which sits in the Harvard Yard.

It's not a particularly becoming figure, but the image stuck, albeit unofficially.

How about the Harvard Egos. You know, I go 'ere, 'e go there. . . . TOUCHDOWN!

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Other teams in the Boston area are the Boston College Eagles, the Northeastern University Huskies and the Boston University Terriers.

Woof. Woof.

How about the MIT Beavers?