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Athletics

"Let's Call Them Sun Devils"

Sparky
Sparky

It was the summer of 1946 when someone uttered those words for the first time. But who? That's a question that has haunted Arizona State University historians for years. The nickname "Sun Devils" is the third in the school's 108-year history. When the second Tempe Normal football team opened play in 1889, the student body chose "Owls" for its moniker. And when Tempe Normal became Arizona State Teachers College, "Owls" became "Bulldogs."

The State Press, the student newspaper, ran frequent appeals during the fall of 1946, urging the Bulldog to be replaced by the new Sun Devil. And on November 8, 1946, the student body voted 819 to 196 to make the change. On November 20, says The Arizona Republic, the student council made it official. The following day, the first Arizona State team played as the Sun Devils.

The basketball team, coached by Rudy Lavik and manned by Ed Long, Ralph Bassett, Bob Chastain, Carl Heath and Barry Arney, defeated the Mesa Jaycees, 42-38, at the Mesa High School gymnasium and launched the Sun Devil in victory.

The problem of drawing the Sun Devil was handed over to the late Berk Anthony, an artist for Walt Disney. Anthony, creator of the defunct Stanford Indian symbol, designed the current Sun Devil imp, "Sparky."

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