How the walking good-luck charms got their game.

Credit: Burcu Avsar
  • The word mascot can be traced to the medieval Latin word masca, meaning “mask” or “witch.”
  • The notion of a mascot as a lucky charm stems from the 1880 French operetta La Mascotte, in which a farm girl bestowed fortune on anyone she met. Translated into English, the show became The Mascot and debuted in theaters in Boston and New York.
  • The first team mascot, an actual bulldog named Handsome Dan, was a tradition started by a Yale student in 1889. Today bulldogs audition for the Yale title (strutting with the band, staring down a stuffed Princeton Tiger). The latest, Dan the 16th, beat nine others for the job.
  • The online Mascot Hall of Fame (, started by a bunch of guys who once inhabited the suits, has inducted 14 collegiate and professional mascots, including Big Red from Western Kentucky University and the Houston Rockets’ Clutch the Bear.