Princeton’s mascot is the product of an early identification with the colors orange and black and with the beast itself.
It is recorded that the Class of 1869 adopted orange as the class colors in honor of William of Orange, prince of the House of Nassau, for whom the first college building, Nassau Hall, was named. At the inauguration of Dr. James McCosh as the president of the college, the Class of 1869 wore ribbons with “Princeton” emblazoned in black letters. At the Saratoga Regatta in 1874, Princeton Crews wore orange and black; since that year, they have been the recognized colors of Princeton.
In the 1876 football game against Yale, the Princeton team appeared for the first time in uniforms wearing black jerseys and tights with an orange “P” on the breast. by 1880, after a variety of combinations, they had substituted a jersey with alternating orange and black strips in the present pattern.
Early association with the Tiger is evidenced in the origin of the “Tiger Cheer.” Later known as the “Locomotive – Princeton” since its cadence resembles that of a steam locomotive starting to move, the cheer was reportedly picked up by the Princeton students from a Civil War regiment which passed through the town.
Claim is also made to the adoption of the beast around 1882, since a campus humor magazine, The Tiger, was established that year. It is believed, however, that the Princeton students drifted into the use of the tiger as a mascot about this time through the influence of newspapermen covering athletic events at Princeton, New York and New Haven. A newspaper account credited the men from Nassau Hall with fighting like tigers.
In the 1920’s some undergraduates brought a live Tiger to Princeton and exhibited the real thing at football games. The innovation was short-lived, however, when the students realized the cost of the beast’s upkeep.
It was just after World War II when a student dressed in a rented costume first performed the now famous tumbling act.
The above was excerpted from a Columbia Cornell Football Program in 1968 which outlines the history of Ivy League mascots.
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