UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WHTM) – Have you ever wondered where Penn State got the idea to make the Nittany Lion their mascot?
According to Penn State University, the idea was first formed 119 years ago, way back in 1904.
The university states that it started when the no-mascot Penn State baseball team traveled to Princeton.
Third baseman, Harrison “Joe” Mason and Penn State were being intimidated by a Princeton baseball player who said the Princeton Tiger was one of the fiercest beasts.
Instead of being intimidated, Mason said, “Well, up at Penn State we have Mount Nittany right on our campus, where rules the Nittany Mountain Lion, who has never been beaten in a fair fight. So, Princeton Tiger, look out,” according to the university.
At the time though, Penn State didn’t have an official mascot, Penn State had “Old Coaly” which was a mule.
The university states that Mason lobbied for the mountain lion to be the mascot by creating a student-run magazine called The Lemon.
After he wrote an article calling for the name to be Old Nittany Mountain Lion the class of 1908 used a lion on their yearbook.
According to Onward State, lion statues called “ma” and “pa” were placed at the university’s main entrance after the article was published.
According to the university and Onward State, students still sing while the band plays “Hail to the Lion” but the original song was called “The Nittany Lion” and it was created in the 1920s by James Leydon, a former member of the Glee Club.
Onward State says that the first mascot debuted in 1922 but appeared more like an African lion rather than a mountain lion.
After making this appearance, the mascot disappeared for 12 years.
In the 1940s the lion would reappear, but instead of being an African lion, it was now a mountain lion.
The Nittany Lion changed many times since the 1940s but in the 1980s, the mascot became the icon it is today.