A long time ago (yes, for most of you 45 years is ancient history) Rutgers played Manhattan College on a regular basis. Their mascot or team name was the Jaspers. We would chant at basketball games: What the hell's a Jasper? What the hells's a Jasper? Clever, huh? For the record, Jasper was the name of a priest who was the school's first athletic director. But I digress.
Well, if things hadn't changed about 60 years ago, our current B1G brethren might be chanting, What the hell's a "chanty"? And there is proof of the existence of said mascot.....the chanticleer. From a game program from 1953.
Look at that thing on the cover. No, not the lion, the one at the bottom. Rutgers was not always known as the Scarlet Knights. If you go back to the 1920's, even farther back than my personal knowledge, Rutgers was alternately known as the Queensmen - after the original school name, Queens College - the Scarlet, or the Chanticleers. Yes, Chanticleers. According to the Rutgers website:
Officially serving as the mascot figure for several football seasons beginning in 1925 was a giant, colorfully felt-covered, costumed representation of an earlier campus symbol, the "Chanticleer." Though a fighting bird of the kind which other colleges have found success, to some it bore the connotation of "chicken."....Chanticleer remained as the nickname for some 30 years.
In the early 1950's, in the hope of spurring both the all-around good athletic promise and RU fighting spirit, a campus-wide selection process changed the mascot to that of a Knight.
A short article in that 1953 program sets up the day's encounter between a team they call "Penn State" and our own Queensmen/Chanticleers:
Impudent Queensmen? Mid-20th Century prose, I guess.
But before the change came, Chanticleers was the name. And apparently it wasn't all that popular, as a story in the program notes:
Officially, the Chanticleer has been the State University's football mascot for about 20 years but has not always been a popular one. He was ignored for many years and a student effort to seek a new nickname in 1948 almost brought about his demise.
All I can say is, thank goodness for those students who wanted the change and eventually got it! The following year, the William & Mary game program has no mention of Chanticleers. None!
What this program did include was a full page ad from the athletic director, Harry Rockafeller, asking for donations to the U.S. Olympic team. Why? Because just two years earlier, two Rutgers grads, Tom Price and Chuck Logg - members of Rutgers crew - were gold medal winners at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic games.
And if the name Rockafeller sounds familiar, the RAC is located on Rockafeller Road.
So, there you have it. From Chanticleer...
....to Scarlet Knight. I'm sticking with the Knight.
And I'm still pushing to bring back Rutgers crew as a varsity sport! Happy Thanksgiving!