Cornell’s recognized nickname is Big Red; its colors, Carnelian and White — the shade of carnelian has varied over the years. The team mascot is the Cornell Bear, a cheerleader dressed in bearskin, accompanied lately by a Mama Bear identifiable by a perkish little apron. Although without official sanction, the now legendary mascot nevertheless has endeared himself to generations of Big Red supporters. The sentimental attachment was formed when a black bear cub was purchased for $25 circa 1915. Promptly named Touchdown, he was Cornell’s first mascot.
Not only did Touchdown bring excitement to the spectators by climbing the goal posts at the start of each game, he also brought good luck to the team. The Big Red was unbeaten during the entire year of his debut. But it was the first and last season.
Unhappily, Touchdown’s expensive taste for honey, combined with a penchant for running amuck in hotel dining rooms and elevators (Detroit), capped by a final wild escapade through a saltwater taffy shop and into the ocean (Atlantic City) proved too much for his “manager” guardian. Alas, he was unceremoniously given away to a nearby zoo.
His successor the following year apparently became a dropout in an ever shorter length of time. Reportedly, yet another bear cub was seen staked out on Schoellkopf Field in early Fall 1919, but he mysteriously vanished before the first game of the season. Although there have been no more live bears at Schoellkopf since — as every Cornellian knows the very last one disappeared in Beebee Lake — the Cornell Bear is ubiquitous on campus.
The mascot adorns the head of the University Mace. Moreover, the multiplicity of other Bear decorations redound to his immense popularity. loftily perched, he graces the archway of Willard Straight Hall poring over a book on one side, which cradling the inevitable pigskin on the other.
The above was taken from a Columbia-Cornell Football program published in 1968 which recounted the history of Ivy League Mascots.
We have a nice selection of Cornell football programs and memorabilia for sale on our website: