That’s a January 1917 image of Sammy the Owl, Rice University’s mascot.
He has a rifle.
He has a large blade.
He goes by 2 Hatz.
What is happening?
Sammy — a 191-pound, canvas-and-wood object that replaced a live owl as Rice’s mascot — had just been kidnapped by local rival Texas A&M. That photo shows him surrounded by victorious Aggies, according to this Rice story on the history of Sammy, which is the greatest webpage in all of college sports. The hats appear to be United States military caps; A&M has a long student military and ROTC tradition.
The finest tale of mascot-thieving I’ve ever read, via Rice’s side of the story:
After a Rice basketball victory over Texas A&M in 1917, several Aggies kidnapped the mascot and sent a message: “If Rice wishes to claim their bird and ever think they are able to take him back to the ‘Institoot,’ they can find him at 37 Milner Hall, College Station, Texas.”
A group of Rice students calling themselves the Owl Protective Association hired a private detective to find the missing bird. The detective located the mascot in College Station and sent the students a coded telegram: “Sammy is better and would like to see his parents at 11 o’clock.”
Upon receipt of the telegram, 17 Rice men raced to College Station to rescue the mascot from the U.S. Armory, where a night watchman fired his pistol at them.
“Awakened by the gunshots, A&M students gave chase,” Rogers said, and at one point, several hundred Aggies were searching for the Rice men in the countryside around College Station. They captured nine of the Rice students.
The remaining eight, whose evasive actions were surely hindered by the unwieldiness of the massive bird, opted to cut the canvas skin off it and burn the wood-shaving stuffing. “Attracted by the smoke, a party of cadets captured four more Rice men,” Rogers said. “The last four were rescued by hunters; they and ‘Sammy’ returned to Houston. Thirteen Rice men remained imprisoned at A&M until Rice President Edgar Odell Lovett petitioned the A&M president for their return.”
How many astounding details did you stumble upon in that passage?
I count 14. Mascots used to get kidnapped all the time, but this is as amazing as it gets.
The rest of that webpage is nearly as colossal, including another Aggie kidnapping, Sammy’s transition into a lumpier version of himself and back into a live animal and then into a costumed human (he’s a shapeshifter), Sammy plunging into a baseball championship dogpile despite not being a dog, and so forth. Please bookmark it and read it weekly or whenever you need the spirit of Sammy, whichever is more frequent.