They Fought Like Wildcats Centennial (1914-2014): What if Arizona was not pegged Wildcats?

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Excerpt from L.A. Times, Nov. 8, 1914, authored by Bill Henry:
“Arizona’s cactus-fed athletes, despite heroic efforts on the part of their two halfbacks, (Asa) Porter and (Franklin) Luis, went down to defeat before the Occidental Tigers yesterday afternoon, the tally with all precincts heard from being 14 to 0 in favor of the Tigers.
Confident of rolling up a big score, the Tigers took the field with grins on their faces, but before the game was 10 seconds old they knew they had a battle on their hands.
The Arizona men showed the fight of wild cats and displayed before the public gaze a couple of little shrimps in the backfield who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”

This site will conduct a countdown in a 100-day period, leading up to Arizona’s 2014 football season-opener with UNLV on Aug. 29 at Arizona Stadium. The 100 Days ‘Til Kickoff countdown will include information daily about the historic 1914 Arizona team that helped create the school’s nickname of “Wildcats” because of how they played that fateful day against Occidental.

What if former Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Henry described Arizona as something different than Wildcats 100 years ago?

What if former Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Henry described Arizona as something different than Wildcats 100 years ago?(Occidental Library)

What if Los Angeles Times correspondent Bill Henry thought of an animal different than a wildcat or something else when describing Arizona’s play against might Occidental on Nov. 7, 1914? What would Arizona’s nickname be today?

We know Henry was too intelligent to describe Arizona as tigers, Occidental’s nickname. Henry went on to became a decorated war correspondent, broadcaster for CBS and NBC, and technical director for the 1932 Olympics. Only a savvy person like Henry can come up with a nickname that has identified Arizona athletics in the last 100 years.

But what if Henry’s thoughts turned to something other than a wild cat (or bobcat) indigenous to Arizona and the Southwest?

“The Arizona men showed the fight of wild horses and displayed before the public gaze a couple of little shrimps in the backfield who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”

“The Arizona men showed the fight of wild javelinas and displayed before the public gaze a couple of little shrimps in the backfield who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”

“The Arizona men showed the fight of wild coyotes and displayed before the public gaze a couple of little shrimps in the backfield who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”

“The Arizona men showed the fight of Apaches and displayed before the public gaze a couple of little shrimps in the backfield who defied all attempts of the Tigers to stop them.”

The last reference might be touchy to some (see Redskins controversy in Washington), but what if Henry pounded that into his mechanical typewriter?


(AllSportsTucson.com graphic/Photo from University of Arizona Library Special Collections)

The 1914 Arizona football team to earn the honor of being named the first “Wildcats” was composed of (front row, left to right): Verne La Tourette, George Seeley, Leo Cloud, Richard Meyer, Asa Porter. Second row: Franklin Luis, Lawrence Jackson, Ray Miller, J.F. “Pop” McKale (coach), Turner Smith, Harry Hobson (manager), Orville McPherson, Albert Crawford, Ernest Renaud. Back row: Albert Condron, Emzy Lynch, Charley Beach, Vinton Hammels, Bill Hendry, George Clawson, Harry Turvey.
(AllSportsTucson.com graphic/Photo from University of Arizona Library Special Collections)

Nothing like a Tucson monsoon (Flickr commons photo)

Nothing like a Tucson monsoon (Flickr commons photo)

Here is my Top 10 list of what Arizona’s nickname should be without Wildcats in the equation:

10. Roadrunners … Lovable fast creatures but too small

9. Jackrabbits … Kind of catchy, it works thanks to the word “Jack”

8. Mountain Lions … Bold name also ties in mountainous area.

7. Coyotes … Can you imagine the howling sounds of coyotes at McKale Center?

6. Scorpions … Hard to believe that only one college (Texas-Brownsville) has this nickname.

5. Gila Monsters … The word “monsters” gives it some gusto.

4. Toros … I have an affinity to that name with the old minor-league baseball team in Tucson.

3. Caballeros … Dignified name symbolizing a knight. Not bad.

2. Javelinas … Anything that starts with “Jav” I can respect.

1. Monsoon … The name would set apart Arizona from others with much more of an impact than the UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.

What is your No. 1 choice?

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.



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