Sammy Through The Ages

Karen Rogers, ’68 and I gave a talk today about the history of Sammy. There’s a lot of material about Sammy spread across all kinds of collections and this was the first time we’d ever tried to pull even a little bit of it together. It all turned out to be pretty interesting, with lots of twists and turns, drama, tragic demises, a surprisingly large number of kidnappings and not a few loose ends and unanswered questions.

Here, for example, is a very odd sequence of negatives taken quite near the beginning of the “Sammy as a Person in a Costume” era, which began in 1970:

Sammy 70s sequence 1

Sammy 70s sequence 2

Sammy 70s sequence 3

One of the astute listeners at the talk suggested that it may have been homecoming and that the mysterious box in the first image could be a case of beer. Closer inspection reveals that to be exactly the case. But why the barefoot fellow dressed like a pregnant woman? Could be the Arkansas game, I suppose.

Bonus: Sammy actually showed up in person! I confess I enjoyed seeing everyone in the room line up to get their picture taken with him.


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19 Responses to Sammy Through The Ages

  1. Richard A. Schafer says:

    I would love to see that talk. I’m fascinated by the change in the character between 1970 and 2014. That’s a very different looking Sammy!

  2. Richard A. Schafer says:

    Is that a dog biscuit on the ground a few feet in front and slightly to the right of the “pregnant woman”?

  3. Pat Campbell says:

    We really need to get Grungy to chime in. I believe this is the 25th anniversary of the 1972 A&M game where they brought out the refugees who had been hiding for 25 years.

  4. George Webb says:

    In c. 1986, the Rally Club raised money for a new Sammy costume, the replace the old one which was hot, disgusting and disintegrating. We raised the money in a remarkably short time.

  5. Looks to be John Hardy Williams in his, the first Sammy-the-Owl-as-a-human costume…

  6. John Stoner says:

    Looks like Norman Hackerman in the first photo. Doesn’t that make it 1971 (or later)?

  7. almadenmike says:

    It does look like Rice’s opponent is “ARK” (on the right-side of the scoreboard), which has a halftime score of 14. The only game in Houston between 191 and 1981 with an Arkansas halftime score of 14 was on November 3, 1979: The Hogs led 14-7 (See p. 12 – .) enroute to a 34-7 blowout. The photo shows a vertical line in the middle of the Rice score box, which could be consistent with a “7”.

    Unfortunately, the online MOB script archive ( does not include that game’s script.

  8. Gloria Tarpley '81 says:

    This was 1979 or 1980, and Norman Hackerman was, in fact, president. The Homecoming Queen, seen walking with the guy carrying the mystery box, was Nicole Van Den Heuvel (my roommate, and current head of Career Services at Rice). The “pregnant woman” was Bob Schmidt (Will Rice, I believe), and I believe he was the Homecoming King. I don’t recall his costume having anything at all to do with Arkansas….

  9. Kampechara Puriparinya says:

    Thank you for Rice information

    Sent from my iPhone

  10. Barney L. McCoy says:

    During the late 80s and early 90s, a group of Rice students lived next door on West Main, and one of them was Sammy the Owl. On game day we would see him dressed in the suit and he would occasionally interact with my daughters. When we would then go to the game, my daughter Zoe would often tell complete strangers that Sammy lived next door to her.
    Barney L. McCoy, Hanszen 67

  11. grungy1973 says:

    I remember nothing about that, and the extended script archives only include one Arkansas script (’90), which is odd in itself. (Why would we randomly lose nearly all records of one historic opponent?)
    I recognize several of the MOBsters, and the blonde woman in the dress, behind Sammy, appears to be Marian Schauerte.
    Going to try to get the telecine to function or another 16mm projector, and watch the film of the show.
    I’ll be back with more info…
    The case of Lone Star was the traditional gift for the Homecoming King.
    The Homecoming Queen received a dozen red roses.
    Hasn’t Marshal-the-Creature appeared in this blog at one point or another?

    • Pat Campbell says:

      According to the note in the db: “Our new script database is wonderful, but we’re manually transcribing the old content. Please be patient as we continue to migrate our old scripts to this new format as we have time.”
      Given that they are Rice students, it is not likely the task will be done soon.

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