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An Unusual Team Name for Saint Louis

There are sooooo many Division I college hoops teams — 32 conferences, 351 schools — and I don’t even pretend to know much about all of them, or even most of them. I’m usually proud of myself if I remember a certain detail, like which conference a school plays in, or which state it’s located in, or the story behind the school’s mascot. In the case of Saint Louis, I learned a long time ago that the school name always gets spelled out (“Saint Louis,” not “St. Louis”), so I always style it correctly. Whenever I do so, a few alums usually email me and thank me for getting their alma mater’s name right.

But what I didn’t know until yesterday is that Saint Louis’s teams are called the Billikens. And one reason I didn’t know that is that they hadn’t worn “Billikens” on their jerseys in more than 30 years — until two nights ago, when they finally did so for a game against George Washington (additional photos here).

Of course, that raises a new question: What the hell is a Billiken? According to the school’s website, “The Billiken is a mythical good-luck figure who represents ‘things as they ought to be'” (although it was apparently created by a Missouri art teacher in 1908, so I’m not sure how “mythical” that makes it). There’s lots of additional information here.

I’m sure many of you (maybe most of you?) already knew this, but I didn’t. So this is a case of a uniform teaching me something — nice!

(My thanks to Brian Kunderman for bringing this one to my attention.)

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Friday Flashback: With Clemson and Alabama set to play for college football’s championship on Monday night, my weekly Friday Flashback piece on ESPN looks back at the 2011 BCS title game between Oregon and Auburn, which had some interesting uni-centric subtexts: old-school vs. new-school, Nike vs. Under Armour, and so on. Check it out here.

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PermaRec update: My series on old letters from the files of the Hoge Brush Company continues with a look at the letter shown above. Get the full story over on Permanent Record.

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Gromm•It update: Vice Media’s “Creators Project” blog has written a nice piece about Gromm•It. Check it out here.

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The Ticker
By Paul

’Skins Watch: An Indiana high school’s plan to change its team name from Redskins to Legends could be delayed because no funds have been allocated for new uniforms (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Speaking of Indiana, with the turn of the new year, Goshen High School has officially changed from the Redskins to the Red Hawks. ”¦ Plenty Coups High School in Montana is located on the Crow Indian Reservation. The school’s name refers to Chief Plenty Coups of the Crow Tribe, who was part of the Battle of Little Bighorn. The school’s teams, which are called the Warriors, use the U. of Illinois’s old Chief Illiniwek logo. ”¦ A Native American group has asked CBS not to use the ’Skins name if the team makes it to the Super Bowl (from Andrew Cosentino).

Baseball News: Here’s a slideshow of some of the uniforms worn by Ken Griffey Jr. during his career (from J. Daniel). ”¦ Good recap of how the Hall of Fame took over the cap-selection process for inductees’ plaques after Wade Boggs abused the privilege. ”¦ We’ve gone over this before, but I can’t believe the Hall keeps using these terrible induction jerseys. ”¦ Odd to see Roger Clemens in a Red Sox uni without a belt (from John Pritchard). ”¦ We’ve all seen pitchers wear dugout jackets while running the bases. But how about a pea coat?! (Great find by Larry Bodnovich.) ”¦ I’m not sure if this is a new thing, but MLB has specific balls designated for Grapefruit League and Cactus League use. ”¦ Remember the “Beartolo Colon” illustration? The guy who drew it turned into a T-shirt. And no, I don’t know where or even if you can buy it (from John Dankosky).

NFL News: A pet rescue operation in New Zealand appears to have poached the NFL logo. ”¦ Here’s a short video of the Packers captaincy patches being sewn onto the jerseys for this Sunday’s game against Washington (from John Okray). ”¦ Here’s an article on the Chiefs’ uniform cops (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Some Bay Area cops have the Super Bowl 50 logo on their badges (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Speaking of the Supe, Levi’s is offering a Supe 50 apparel collection (from Tommy Turner). ”¦ This is odd: Why does the Steelers’ practice field have a yard line marked double-zero? (Good question from Nick Burczyk.)

College and High School Football News: “Manvel High School (a powerhouse school south of Houston) has ‘Hoka Hey’ running down the side of their pants,” says Bob Andrews. “Googling found that it’s a school district ‘thing’. Don’t see many ‘School Motto On Pants’ examples.”

Hockey News: G.I. Joke jerseys this Sunday for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. ”¦ The town of Windsor, Nova Scotia, wants to call itself the “Birthplace of Hockey,” but there’s some concern about that, because the slogan is already trademarked by the Hockey Heritage Society. ”¦ I’m not sure why a Canadian would wear a Donald Trump hockey jersey, but that’s what this guy did (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Cool new throwback mask for Canucks G Ryan Miller (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Brutal pink-themed jerseys upcoming next month for the Austin Bruins. ”¦ CCM, in a nice throwback nod to Patrick Roy, is using the defunct Koho brand for Roy’s alumni game gear. ”¦ The Sharks wore their throwbacks last night.

NBA News: The Kings are building what’s being described as “the NBA’s techiest arena” (thanks, Brinke). ”¦ Odd uni matchup last night in Sacramento, as the Kings wore purple at home and the Lakers wore gold on the road (thanks, Mike). ”¦ Color on color last night in Houston, as the Rockets wore their brutal “Clutch City” alts and the Jazz wore green (thanks, Phil).

College and High School Hoops News: Check out the web-themed court design for the Concord (N.C.) High School Spiders (from Matt Campbell). ”¦ Valparaiso University is having a Space Jam Night on Jan. 30 (from Andy Horne). ”¦ The Virginia Tech women’s team went BFBS last night (from Andrew Cosentino). ”¦ UCLA gave away eyeglass frames yesterday for Russell Westbrook Night. Even the players got in on the fun (from Jared Buccola). ”¦ NC State had a blackout game last night.

Soccer News: Here’s the new LAFC crest, along with an explanation from the designer. My rough sense of things, based on reaction I got via email and on saw on social media, is that people seem to like it. ”¦ Arsenal’s new home jersey may have leaked.

Grab Bag: The UFC has fined three of its fighters for Reebok apparel violations (from Tyler K). ”¦ Interesting story about intellectual property litigation between LucasFilm and the guy who designed the Stormtrooper helmets for the original Star Wars movie. ”¦ The process to come up with a new logo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is moving along. The original logo was scrapped due to its similarity to the logo for a Belgian theater. ”¦ “Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank has undertaken a huge project to not only build an entirely new UA campus, but also completely transform Baltimore’s Port Covington.” ”¦ New packaging for McDonald’s. ”¦ Here’s the logo for the 20th season of men’s college club lacrosse. ”¦ We’ve talked before about presidential candidate Ted Cruz selling a “Cruz” football jersey on his campaign website. He’s apparently sold at least two of them (from Chris Schwartz). ”¦ Good story on the history of Starter jackets and the Starter brand (from Aaron Parrish).

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What Paul did last night: Went out last night to see the debut performance by the Editors, a local band comprised of, well, editors. From left to right, that’s Ira Robbins, founding editor of the seminal music journal Trouser Press (who I’ve known for about 25 years); Brownstoner editor and Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg co-founder Jonathan Butler (who I don’t know at all); Gawker Media executive editor John Cooke (who I’d never met before last night, but I’m a big fan of his work, so I introduced myself after the show and ended up yakking quite a bit with him and his wife — nice people); and New York Observer editor-in-chief Ken Kurson (who I’ve known for nearly 30 years, dating back to when he was the bassist in a wonderful indie band called Green; as you can barely see in that photo, he was wearing tzitzit onsteage!). They were surprisingly tight, and it was a really fun time. All they needed was an opening band called the Interns.

Comments (79)

    RE: The picture of Clemens. It’s from 1986-89 ….I see only one fan in the crowd wearing a Sox shirt, and one with a Sox hat. Amazing how caps/shirts sales have exploded since then.

    Also amazing to see disposable cameras and hand held cameras… that picture today would have all cell phones taking pictures.

    That photo was from The Rocket’s last game as a member of the Red Sox, in 1996, not from any time in the 1980s. Here is a Boston Globe column about that game.


    Make note of Mike Maddux & coach Tim Johnson in the dugout. They were members of the Sox only in ’95 &’96. Maddux’s Starter jacket is not the classic satin version with the chenille hanging socks logo as would have been worn in the 80s. Also, the uniforms are by Russell, which replaced Wilson as the supplier in 1992. Another clue is the grey underbrim on the ballcap.

    Thanks Wally, I saw Jim Rice pictured, thinking he was a player (last year 1989), not a coach.

    Thanks, Paul. I’ve learned a couple things already today! Billikens and Tzitzit. Had never previously heard of either, but I really like the way both roll off the tongue.

    Love the Joseph Lay stationery. Love the bomber graphic. Nice touch by the author signing off with “Yours ‘V’ truly.”

    RE: Steelers Yard markers

    All of the yard markers on the Steelers practice facility have 00 on them. The main reason is that they can run all practice situations from a single spot no matter what yardline the practice script says, or they can move to anywhere on the field and still run plays as if they were on the 20 or the 50 in a game. The second reason is the practice fields on the South Side of Pittsburgh are only 100 yards long, 80 yards plus endzones.

    Interestingly, the Pitt Panthers practice on fields at the same facility and number them EZ, 20, 30, 40, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, EZ

    “Why does the Steelers’ practice field have a year line marked double-zero?”

    I’ve asked about a YARD line; we’ll see if we hear back.

    I always wondered about the Billikens.
    By the way, it’s Windsor, Nova Scotia looking to be the birthplace of hockey. Windsor, Ontario is just the birthplace of Tie Domi and Bob Probert.

    Is Koho far less ubiquitous than it used to be? Yes, for sure. Is it obsolete? Technically no, because Jonas Hiller wears it. But wow, talk about throwback! I never thought I’d see the Koho 570 graphics get reprised, and it even has leather buckled toe bridges to boot. Going the extra mile for period authenticity. Love it!

    Koho is still around, as a house brand for – the pads are still CCM/Lefavre. Their headquarters used to be in Orange County, which is why Hiller started wearing the pads when he was with Anaheim.

    Gary Carter is the player who should have gone into the HOF with the backwards helmet on his plaque. He was clearly torn and was leaning towards the Mets. That was never offered as an option to him. It seems that it has just been over the past few years that the HOF has become agreeable to the no logo option.

    Carter wasn’t torn at all. He wanted the Mets. And he wanted the Mets because it would have provided more marketing/promotional opportunities for him. He didn’t want to be associated with a team that no longer existed.

    This is precisely why the player’s preference shouldn’t matter. Players may have all sorts of preferences that have nothing to do with history — a feud with an owner, a personal services contract with a team (or aspirations for same), etc. None of that matters, nor should it.

    Take Piazza: Duh, of course he’s going to say Mets, because he still occasionally works for the Mets during spring training! He still has a business relationship with them. He has no business relationship with the Dodgers. So when asked for his cap preference, he has a conflict of interest. Which is why his preference (or any player’s) should not factor into the Hall’s choice.

    Regardless, a backwards helmet would have satisfied all with Carter, but it was not even discussed as a possible option at the time. The image of him running to Orosco at the end of Game 7 with his helmet backwards is iconic.

    The image of him running to Orosco at the end of Game 7 with his helmet backwards is iconic.

    This, like all emotional arguments regarding Hall plaques, is irrelevant. It has to do with one moment, not a career. He’s not being inducted for one moment; he’s being inducted for the greatness of his career.

    Here’s what’s relevant: With which team, if any, did he have his most Hall-worthy seasons? The answer with Carter was clearly the Expos. The Hall made the right call.

    It’s the Hall of FAME, not just the Hall of Really Good Career Stats. If a player is remembered for one particular moment, it absolutely should be a factor.

    It’s the Hall of FAME, not just the Hall of Really Good Career Stats.

    Demonstrably and empirically false. Statistical performance is pretty much the only thing that gets players inducted (or not inducted).

    I’m neither defending it nor decrying it, and you’re certainly under no obligation to like it, but that is nonetheless the way it is.

    “If a player is remembered for one particular moment, it absolutely should be a factor.”


    Do you really believe half the stuff you post, or are you just trying to be contrarian most of the time?

    The is not only correct, he is obviously and self-evidently correct. Some players really are remembered for a single moment, despite long careers of consistent excellence. No, of course the iconic moment or two doesn’t get a person into the Hall of Fame, but then neither does merely consistent excellence on the field of play. If you simply calculate a statistical profile of HOF members at each position, you’ll find dozens of players with career stats just as good or better who are not enshrined. In a lot of cases, they’re not enshrined because they didn’t play in New York, or they never played on a championship team. But in many cases, it’s because they never captured the fans’ imaginations with an iconic performance or moment.

    If the name “Kirby Puckett” does not instantly bring to mind link, or a memory of watching the play during which the image was recorded, I would regard that as proof that you either don’t like the sport of baseball, or that you don’t like America, or maybe both.

    Hall of Fame plaques often (less so today than previously) refer to iconic moments in a player’s career. There’s no good reason why the player portraits should not also, from time to time, depict players in ways that call to mind the iconic moments of their careers. I don’t regard it as a virtue that so many plaques in Cooperstown look like passport photos, with generic grinning faces looking straight out of the frame.

    Oh, please. Lou’s example was Carter’s moment at the end of the ’86 Series. The other player involved there was Jesse Orosco. Orosco’s role in that moment is even *more* iconic — pounding the mound, throwing his glove in the air (it legendarily “never came down”), etc. It’s one of the classic examples of joyous individual expression in baseball history — a wonderful, wonderful moment.

    And that’s why Jesse Orosco is a Hall of Famer, right?

    “In a lot of cases, they’re not enshrined because they didn’t play in New York…”


    Settle down there, Chief. First of all, at one time there were three teams playing in New York in a 16-team league (for more than 50 years, in fact), so statistically, more players are likely to have played for more NY teams than all others. But it is a fair point that those who vote for those in the HOF may not have had as much occasion to see players from outside NY play (even though the beats covered all teams in all cities). But whatever…we don’t need the “flyover bias” argument here ;).

    And to make up for this, the Veterans Committee enshrined a fair number of players who certainly arguably didn’t deserve induction, including some who played in New York and were probably better known for their off-the-field activities, or those NOT from NY who are famous mostly because of one single moment (albeit a big one). So yeah, those ‘iconic moments’ or location of ones team may have gotten in a few who didn’t belong (blame the Vets committee for those last two).

    Are there some players not in the HOF whose stats are arguably (or even demonstrably) better than those in the HOF? Of course, there were probably more than a few players who might have made it had they had better relationships with the BBWAA. It’s not SOLELY stats, but it’s MOSTLY stats — if you don’t have them, you won’t get in. And even if you DO have them, you still might not get in. But you won’t get in without ’em, and that is the primary factor.

    Wow, I am a bit surprised by the tone of some of these responses. You would think I proposed putting him in as a SF Giant. While I don’t think there would have been anything wrong with Carter going in with a Mets cap, given the precedent set by Reggie, one certainly could make a fair case for a blank cap or a backwards helmet. My initial point was that this was discussed, if not proposed, for Piazza, yet not even considered for Carter. Yes, he put up better number and played longer for the Expos, but he was co-captain of the Mets and helped lead them to one of only two championships in their history. The backwards helmet would not have detracted from his Expos contributions, but it also wouldn’t have snubbed his Mets contributions and his desire to be in as a Met. It was a heavy handed response to the Boggs Tampa Bay incident.

    “Settle down there CHIEF”?! Really? Surprised to see that phraseology coming from you.

    Phil, we’re not actually disagreeing. Except as to your last sentence: Yes, you can get in without meeting the minimum threshold of previous honorees’ stats. See your own second paragraph if you need convincing. Or, you know, literally anything Bill James ever wrote about the Hall of Fame. The trick is to have played for the Yankees, or to have been eligible for induction during the 1970s and early 1980s. Or to be Kirby Puckett, whose induction I would defend on the basis of his artificially shortened career even though “but he didn’t play long enough” is the most common argument against him. Which just goes to show how messed up the whole notion of HOF-qualifying stats are: Even in this more enlightened age, people still tend to value longevity stats more than they value actual measurements of individual excellence.

    As to the whole iconic-moment thing, here’s a potentially instructive hypothetical. Take Cal Ripken, Jr., a borderline HOF player who turned himself into a first-ballot shoe-in by sheer force of sticking around long enough. ( Imagine that Cal had started his career, and his consecutive-game streak, with the Royals, and only late in his career signed with the Orioles, where alternate history joins with real history and Cal breaks Gehrig’s streak with all the national fanfare that actually happened. Ripken retires as an Oriole. Which cap should be depicted on his Hall of Fame plaque? I would argue for the Orioles in this hypothetical, even though Cal would have spent more years with the Royals, and would have a World Series ring with the Royals instead of with the Orioles. Ripken will be remembered for generations for two things: Redefining the nature of the shortstop position, and breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive-games streak. The iconic importance of the latter is such that in my mind, hypothetical Cal would be best depicted with an Orioles cap than a Royals cap. Now, I wouldn’t call anyone who came to the opposite conclusion about hypothetical Cal wrong, but I would reject the idea that it’s somehow illegitimate to consider the things a player is famous for when creating his plaque for the Hall of Fame.

    Similarly, I think it’s proper that Nolan Ryan is shown on his plaque with a Rangers cap, even though that may have more to do with his own personal preferences and financial interests at the time of his induction. Ryan, um, capped his career with several notable individual achievements as a Ranger, including two more (?!) no-hitters at an age when most starting pitchers are retired. Plus, you know, link in a Rangers cap.

    I would have put Ryan in as an Angel, noogie not withstanding. He played the longest for the Angels, set the single season strikeout record with them and pitched 4 no hitters is 3 seasons with them. Yes, what he did with the Rangers at an advanced age was incredible, but he really made his mark with the Angels.

    Wait a second. Cal Ripken “redefined” his position (only the most important one on the field) yet he’s a mere “borderline” Hall of Famer? That’s insane.

    And why do people always spell “shoo-in” as “shoe-in” these days?

    There are four fields at the Steelers & Pitt Panthers practice facility. Two of the fields are numbered with 00, while the other two are “properly” numbered. All the fields are only 100 yards long, including the end zones, so those two fields each have a goal line labeled as the 20.


    Athletically, Saint Louis is perhaps best known for their men’s soccer dynasty, which won a slew of NCAA championships throughout and on either side of the ’60s.
    The late sportscaster George Michael used to claim he was the back-up goalie on some of those championship teams. He was lying.

    I think the “pea jacket” worn by the pitcher in the photo is actually a sweater with a shawl collar such as those seen here: link.

    Give it a closer look.

    I thought the same thing. Also, how was that guy safe? There’s no way he got to home plate.

    For years, Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton had 00 on the goal lines during CFL games.

    See picture linked here-


    A big shout-out to Plenty Coups HS for keeping one of my favorite insignias in circulation. I wonder if the school uses it simply because they like it, or if the original had been designed by an Indian artist.

    In addition to the Billikens, the St Louis area has another college with an unusual team name. The Webster University Gorlocks. link

    I am wearing my Webster sweatshirt today and was just about to weigh in with the Gorlok as well. You guys beat me to it!

    Being from Saint Louis, I’ve grown up with the Billikens. The explanation for the team name has always raised questions, so you get used to it. But there are numerous other mascots that are even more obscure out there.

    On a related note, my alma mater is Webster University, here in STL. Webster’s team mascot is called a Gorlock, which is also considered a “mythical creature” and bears a striking resemblence to the Billiken. Again, being a native of Webster Groves, I never really questioned the original of the Gorlock. It wasn’t until I was enrolled as a student that I found out the backstory, which I really like. According to the website:

    The name “Gorlok” was derived from the combination of two streets that intersect in the heart of “Old Webster,” Gore and Lockwood avenues. The name was chosen in June 1984 by a campus committee that considered many suggestions and voted several times before settling on the unusual nickname.


    I’ve seen a lot of fields just use large rectangles where the numbers would be. It’s just a marker for receivers to line up, so it’s arbitrary. Just easier to paint “00” than to have to bring out all of their number stencils.

    Good for the Billikens; I’m on record pulling for teams with unusual or rare nicknames. In fact, I keep a list of underused nicknames that I like to tick off when someone decides to change their mascot. The list has no tick marks. But there are about twelve new teams called the Red Hawks.

    Please share your list! Or highlights!

    The growing ubiquity of Red Hawks is almost depressing enough to make me accept keeping a few Redskins teams around. Native Americans have contributed thousands of loan words, and tens of thousands of place names, to American English, and the best anyone can think of to replace an anti-Indian racial slur is “Red Hawks”?

    I’m still miffed that UND didn’t even seem to consider adopting the nickname Prairie Rose – sure, it doesn’t lend itself to an angry-face mascot, but this country has a rich heritage of that sort of nickname in sports. A seminal early American baseball team was the Rockford Forest Citys, and nobody belittles the Toronto Maple Leafs for being named after a fragile organic solar collector.

    Please share your list! Or highlights!

    With pleasure: Thunderbolts, Meteors, Comets, Rockets, Rattlesnakes, Railsplitters, Pathfinders, Arrows, Tomahawks, Firebirds, Outlaws, Lawmen, Magpies, Swifts, Cartographers, Deerstalkers, Heralds, Crash (of rhinos), Murder (of crows), Pride (of lions). And that’s off the top of my head.

    I have two before-I-die hopes for big-league baseball:

    1. That I live long enough to see an MLB team in Havana; and

    2. Havana’s team is called Los Misiles de Cuba.

    Number two will never happen, but it should.

    The teams at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, Texas, are known as the Buttons. At Boiling Springs High School in Pennsylvania, teams are called the Bubblers.

    Speedway (Indiana) High School is a short drive from where I live. Their name is the Sparkplugs. Go here to see their mascot: link

    Interesting fact about the Buttons of Central Catholic, the name refers to the button of a rattlesnake.

    Speaking of, St. Mary’s University in San Antonio goes by the Rattlers, a name i prefer over Rattlesnakes.

    The Rattler/Button connection comes from Central Catholic and St. Marys’s being related schools. CCHS is the successor high school and StMU is the successor university to St. Mary’s Institue founded by the Society of Mary in 1852.

    The high school teams in Smethport, PA are called the Hubbers, as Smethport is the hub of McKean County. I only know this because I have a copy of the Pennsylvania Diners video from PBS, and the host ate a Hubber Burger at the Smethport Diner (on Route 6, Paul!).

    They made this person’s Top Ten list of strangest nicknames. Check out the comments for even more names.

    Don’t let’s forget the Watersmeet (MI) Nimrods. When I came upon this website, I hoped Paul would just let me rattle off weird nicknames in hopes somebody would be inspired by one, or at least get a chuckle out of them. Putnam County has a town called Southeast: I was hoping to put a team there called the Northwest Southeast Catdogs.

    The Madison Capitols of the USHL are doing “Miracle on Ice” fauxbacks Saturday night to commemorate Bob Suter:


    I love the treatment – the style and form of the 1980 USA jersey, but with CAPS lettering. I’m tempted to attend just to watch the unis in action. I’ll be curious to see whether players have their own numbers, or if all the jerseys are #20 for the night.

    I went to Spring Training in Florida in 2013 and we got a plethora of balls. One was even fouled off of my 60 year-old mother’s knee. She’s fine.

    All were standard MLB balls – no special markings. I’m making my second ever trip this year, and you can bet I’ll be working on getting one, or a couple of those Grapefruit League balls.

    Creators Project article is very well written.

    Trypophobia only kicked in for me with the potato. It almost did with the bagel, but I could feel my brain processing it the first time I saw the photo. Kind of like when a camera has trouble focussing on a subject. But then after a second or two I guess it decided there was no danger and I was OK with it. Curious how the brain works.

    “Billikens” is a good starting point for a list of names that long outlived the fads or events that spawned them. Billiken tchotchkes were enormously popular in the US in the early part of the 20th century; the nickname is akin to a team in the late 1980s calling itself the Beanie Babies or the Pokemon. Off the top of my head, the American Fork, Utah high school teams are called the “Cavemen”, a moniker originally intended to recognize the National Forest Service designating the Mount Timpanogos cave system a National Monument in 1922. The Toronto Raptors have bee struggling with their nickname ever since it was conceived, in the heady days of the first Jurassic Park film. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim have distanced themselves from their eggplant-and-Disney film origins. The Chicago Blackhawks were named for a World War I military outfit; the New York Rangers was a play on the nickname of the club’s first owner, Tex Rickard (“Tex’s Rangers,” get it?). The Montreal Expos honored a long-forgotten World’s Fair. The Oakland A’s have an elephant on their sleeves to mock a derisive remark John McGraw made a hundred years and three hometowns ago. Billikens in the endearing tip of a pretty big iceberg.

    Missouri has a couple of other odd team names at the high school level.

    Hickman High School in Columbia is the Kewpies, as in Kewpie dolls, which results in one of the odder mascots.


    And Maryville High School is the SpoofHounds. A spectral dog, which I always thought cool.

    Iowa has the Sheldon Orabs (Orange and Black) along with the Fort Madison Bloodhounds (location of a state prison). And don’t forget the Blooming Prairie (MN) Awesome Blossoms!

    The only reason I knew their nickname was Billikens was because Saint Louis U had Division 1 Hockey for a short period of time and frequently played the Gophers in Non-Conference or NCAA Tournament games.

    Billikens is a cool nickname, but I’ll always associate it with the link. My grandfather was a Shriner, and had lots of billiken tchotchkes around the house, from statues to tie bars to link. As a kid, I couldn’t decide if the little grinning figure was whimsical or creepy.

    Interesting about spelling out, SLU to Saint Louis University, the high school SLUH doesn’t actually spell out the “Saint” in their name.


    I’ve always been a fan of how the mascots of these Jesuit schools are named after “younger” versions of their college namesake (and in various ways). Like how SLUH are the Jr. Billikens, Rockhurst High School are the Hawklets, and Georgetown Prep are the Little Hoyas. Of course, I am biased since I am a Jesuit high school/college/grad school alum.

    And Princeton, N.J.’s high school are the Little Tigers.

    I think, however, there are some exceptions. The school in Colorado Springs called “Air Academy” are the Kadets.

    Sorry. I should have clarified that I was only referring to Jesuit schools. But the Princeton Little Tigers does fall right in line with that line of thought.

    See, I don’t get why they’re considered so horrible every year. It’s a fun little tradition, and the HOF does not merchandise that design, and the flaws that people sometimes cite are exactly the quirks that many point to in other jerseys as virtues.

    It’s not like inductees are required to wear the jersey in public for the rest of their lives like the sash you’re supposed to wear if you’re awarded certain European honors. It’s something each inductee is given to wear for a few minutes at one event.

    I’m a little surprised at the “discovery” of the Billikens nickname. ESPN, for years, had a Saint Louis-Southern Illinois men’s basketball game late at night (at something like 12 midnight Eastern) so that it could be the Billikens vs. the Salukis.

    Of course, I guess, that’s gone by the wayside as the Power Five conferences now rule everything …

    Re: Beartolo shirts

    I tried selling the Beartolo shirts online (at cost, because truly, I don’t want to make money from them, I just want B. Colón to be a cult hero), but the company doing the printing shut it down (rightly) for copyright infringement. I talked to a friend who has an MLB corporate connection and he assured me there would be no exceptions made. The 7-line army wasn’t interested in buying the design, so I just got a handful printed for me and my friends. If anyone wants one AS A GIFT FROM WHICH I MAKE NO PROFIT, they can email me (, and I’ll see if I have any left over in the right size.

    RE: Spring Training Balls
    This has to be something new. I caught a ball in Arizona last year and one in Florida the year before and they were standard MLB balls.

    Almost certain the Spring Training balls are new. A buddy of mine who goes every year says they’ve occasionally had commemorative baseballs in spring, but never Grapefruit or Cactus league balls for a year.

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