Our Tiger’s Tale(View article as it appeared in the alumni magazine.)
Towson’s mascot, the tiger, arrived on campus not with a roar. Instead
it waited quietly in the bushes for the right time to pounce.
Actually it paraded on campus with the help of Lou Winkelman ’64. He was
the very first Tiger mascot, strutting the stripes in the 1963
Homecoming parade. We went to a costume shop and rented the tiger
suit, Winkelman recalls. After I graduated, the students slowly made
the mascot what it is today. I got calls for years asking where the
costume came from.
Winkelman actually introduced the tiger as the official Towson mascot
winning SGA approval a year before the parade. It took about a year, but
by 1963 students accepted it and the Tiger made its home at Towson.
For Winkelman, the tiger tales began in the early 1960s when he was a
member of the men’s soccer team. He says no one on the team wanted to be
called the Golden Knights, the most popular name for sports teams prior
The Knights mascot may have come from the 1920s and 1930s, when an
elaborate Olde English Christmas dinner was held with knights and ladies
costumes, music and a pageant. The 1930 Tower Echoes used Renaissance
style pictures of archers to depict athletes and campus life. In 1951,
the Knight reigned over Towson with references to the campus being a
Camelot with merry court life (student activities) and many
tournaments (sports). The late 50’s, however, brought other
mascots--the lacrosse team was the “Indians; and the wrestling team,
Winkelman and his team mates had their own idea and simply adopted the
tiger as their mascot. Although they wore jerseys with a knight and
horse logo, they were adamant that they would be called tigers in
their yearbook photo.
Student interest in the Tiger remained high through the 1960’s
encouraged by Winkleman’s weekly sports column Tiger Tales in the
Towerlight; the Towerlight masthead’s use of the tiger image from
‘66-’69; and a gift of a stone tiger statue by the Class of ’67, stolen
from campus a few years later.
In the 1970’s, however, the Towson Tiger, like the real animal, became
an endangered species. Other than brief sports stories, there is only
one reference in a 1970’s yearbook. The Tiger resurfaced in the 1980s
with the purchase of the first official costume by the sports program
and with a major presence in almost every issue of Tower Echoes and
around the campus.
The Towson mascot has come a long way since the reign of the Golden
Knight. Today the much-coveted Tiger goes through intense tryouts and
training. The Tiger makes appearances at all home football games, men’s
and women’s basketball games and gymnastics meets. The Tiger also
appears around the community for special events and celebrations.
TOWSON’S CHOICE OF MASCOTS:
- Knights (pre-1961)
- Teachers (wrestling-1961)
- Indians (lacrosse 1960)
- Tigers (official mascot in 1962)
Information gathered with help of Ada Smith,librarian, Towson
University Archives, Bill Everett, coach, Towson University
Cheerleaders, Susan Quinn, publicist, University Relations and Peter Schlehr, director, Sports Information.