The many faces of Mizzou's mascot
(University Archives, C:1/141/8)
In 1890, the men of Mizzou's first football team adopted their name in honor of a militia unit nicknamed "Tigers," made up of local men who came together to defend Columbia from guerilla bands during the Civil War. The mascot endured but Mizzou's tiger has had many faces over the years.
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The student-portrayed tiger mascot dates back to at least the 1940s, with members of the Tiger Claws pep squad playing the part. Early costumes consisted of a body made out of yellow cloth with painted stripes and a head made of papier-mâché. The design of the costumes tended to vary widely, ranging from a smiling tiger with its tongue sticking out to a more ferocious looking growling tiger. Before 1981, there were at times two mascots, a female tiger (Lil Tiger, who wore an apron) and a male tiger (Big Tiger).
Before the debut of Truman the Tiger it wasn't unusual to see the student mascot not wearing the headpiece at games and parades. Since Truman has became the official mascot only a fully costumed student can be viewed in public.
(1968 Savitar, p. 465)
In 1981, the two mascots were combined into one unisex tiger. The newly designed mascot went nameless for three years, until the cheerleaders ran a "Name the Tiger" contest in 1984, in order to raise money for a carrying case for the mascot uniform. Entrants could submit their proposed names for one dollar. The winner, of course, was Truman. However, Truman as he looks today didn't debut until the Missouri-Utah State football game in 1986.
Mizzou's tiger as seen on programs, clothing, posters, publications, and so on, has had even more faces than the student mascot.
Two different cartoonists put their own spin on Mizzou's tiger. Amadee Wohlschlaeger, the Weatherbird cartoon artist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch from 1932 to 1981, drew covers for many of Mizzou's football game programs from 1959 until the mid 1990s, most of them featuring his own version of the tiger.
Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, also got in on the action, creating his own "Peanuts" version for the 1956 Homecoming edition of The Maneater. The next year, Showme Magazine ran a pattern to allow fans to make their own "Peanuts Tiger" to sew onto their clothes.
Other artists through the years have drawn the tiger in a variety of ways, ranging from comical to ferocious and everything in between.
When it comes to official logos for the entire campus, the University has tended not to have too many tiger images circulating at once. In 1980, a standard image of a tiger leaping over the word Mizzou was copyrighted--though the leaping tiger itself had been used at least as far back as 1977, in a basketball status report.
In 1983 came a tiger related addition to the school's logos in the form of the tiger paw that's still used today.
By the 1990s, the university was ready for a new look for the tiger. Designed by Busch Creative Services of St. Louis, the tiger head superimposed upon a block M logo debuted in 1999. After its debut, the old tiger logo was gradually phased out. Many variations of the 1999 tiger logo are still in use today.
The caricature of Truman also appears in a few slightly different variations.
And then there's the newest addition to the tiger family, TJ, or Truman, Jr. He debuted on March 4, 2000 as the mascot for the University of Missouri Children's Hospital.
Copyright © Curators of the University of Missouri 1997-2012