SF State’s live alligator mascot

SF State had a living, breathing, death-rolling alligator as the football team’s mascot 50 years ago. Yeah I know, it’s crazy. I know it was a different time but I just can’t believe it either — we used to have a football team.

Al, SF State's live mascot

Al, SF State’s live mascot. Pic from the 1963 issue of the “Franciscan”

The alligator, named Al, was “usually muzzled during his stays (at SF State). A seemingly useless precaution since he is also doped from his tail to his snout before he makes the STATE scene,” according to SF State’s 1963 yearbook, The Franciscan.

The alligator usually lived at Steinhart Aquarium, but came to visit “once or twice during the year to act as mascot for the football team,” the yearbook states.

Apparently Al was quite the ladies man, because besides the fact that “girls tremblingly pet him” (rawr) the yearbook also included this extra-special graph:

“According to Jay Folberg, AS president, Al is a father of some dozen or so eggs. This is important intelligence since it indicates to curious females ( and the question has been raised) Al’s sex.”

According to Helene Whitson, former SF State archivist, the absurdity of this situation actually dates back to 1922, when our school began its search for an official mascot. The student paper, then named The Vigilante suggested a cat (the non-existent internet would have loved that), but apparently people weren’t down with that, so the issue got pushed back until it arose again in 1931. That’s when the student paper, then called The Bay Leaf, asked its readers to finally choose a mascot “worthy of our great institution.”

The candidates?

  • Seal
  • Panther
  • Owl
  • Lion
  • Seagull
  • Puma
  • Gater with an “e” to reference the Golden Gate bridge

Personally, I think it would have been better if we went with the seagull. Because come on, think of all the great things we could have yelled at opposing teams: “We are the SF State Seagulls, and we are going to shit all over your car!” Well, at least seagulls were the best pick out of the flying creatures options. The San Francisco State Owls? Are you serious? Does this look like Hogwarts to you?

Anyways, we went with the Gater, which lead to our football team occasionally having a live alligator sit with them on the sidelines. So just know that all your SFSU gear with an alligator on it is actually representing good ol’ Al, our drugged up live alligator mascot.

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