The Tiger

Tger. Photo: J.T. Miller '70
Photo: J.T. Miller '70
Of the many American schools, colleges, universities and professional sports teams with tiger mascots, including the University of Missouri, Louisiana State and Clemson, Princeton is the oldest and reportedly the first to adopt the tiger nickname. Football players of the early 1880s started to wear orange and black stripes on their stockings, jerseys and stocking caps, leading sportswriters to call them "tigers."

The moniker was adopted on campus, and the tiger quickly became incorporated into a wide range of Princeton life. In 1882 students in Princeton's senior class issued a humor magazine called The Princeton Tiger. (Although it ceased publication after nine issues, the magazine was reborn in 1890 and is still published today.)

The tiger soon appeared in Princeton cheers and songs, notably "The Orange and the Black" (1888) written by Clarence Mitchell, Class of 1889, which includes the words: "While the tiger stands defender / Of the Orange and the Black."

In 1893, a three-year-old eating club called The Inn was renamed Tiger Inn.

The Tiger mascot started appearing in the 1940s at basketball and football games. In the 1970s and 1980s the Tigress joined the Tiger, first appearing at the 1973 Princeton-Yale football game.

Today tigers decorate campus buildings (the gateway posts at Little Hall, since 1902; the north side of McCosh Hall, since 1907) and sculptures of tigers can be seen at the entrance to Nassau Hall (a gift in 1911 from Woodrow Wilson's Class of 1879, to replace the lions, previously donated by the same class, that now guard First College). The male and female tigers between Whig and Clio Halls were created in 1969 — the year of coeducation — by sculptor Bruce Moore.

Since World War II an undergraduate dressed in tiger costume entertains fans at football games.