In 1913 Woodrow Wilson was sworn in as president of the United States, gas was about 8 cents a gallon and a true sports legend in the city of Louisville was born in the University of Louisville Cardinal.
An athletics representative for the school the Cardinal bird quickly became a staple, the animal selection was relatively simple. It was the state bird of Kentucky, and the city had an abundance of the red birds. In addition, it was an attempt to give the mascot a broader and more state wide appreciation.
The Cardinal actually pre-dated the school colors of red, black, and white a color scheme that was suggested by Mrs. John L. Patterson after the Cardinal Bird had already established himself.
Through the years the Bird has had a number of nicknames among these Louie (an homage to the school and city’s name) and C.B. (an abbreviation for Cardinal Bird). And the costumed representation seen at sporting events has grown more lavish through the years, today the costume weighs about fifty pounds.
Of course, that costumed bird didn’t start making major appearances until years later, when the first “Cardinal” Dick Dyson dawned the suit.
In those early days of the costumed representation there was a lot of experimentation from students who were trusted with the Cardinal responsibility. One of those early Cardinals Robert “Sam” Badgett remembered fashioning a new head himself out of paper towels after a game against rival, Dayton when some of the Ohio students destroyed the head.
The Cardinal personality was also constantly changing based on who the current Cardinal was, bouncing between being playful and intense. Badgett looked at the Cardinal as the former, wielding props like dust busters and the like to play with the crowd.
Since his inception Louie has come a long way, from a crude composition to a fully three dimensional character sky diving into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, but one things for sure C.B. is here to stay.
Image by Gene Galin and courtesy of Facebook
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