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Syracuse Orange Mascot Was Inspired in Utica

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 15: Baye Keita #12 of the Syracuse Orange reacts against D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera #4 and Jabril Trawick (R) #55 of the Georgetown Hoyas in overtime during the semifinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 15, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello, Getty Images

Most people know the Utica College’s Orange and Blue colors come from Syracuse, because the college used to be a “college of Syracuse University.”

What most people don’t know is that the inspiration for Syracuse University’s colors actually came from Utica.

It all starts with the fact that the original colors of Syracuse University in 1872 were pink and pea green.  The very next year, the colors were changed to “rose pink and azure blue” and they would stay that way for 18 years.  That’s when Hamilton College challenged Syracuse to a post-season track meet at the Hamilton campus in Clinton, NY.

According to the book, Syracuse University – The Critical Years, during the Class of 1890’s fiftieth reunion, classmate Frank J. Marion told the story.

“At the end of our senior year Syracuse accepted the challenge of Hamilton College to a track meet and…a number of us went along to cheer our team. We wore high collars, right up to our chins — cutaway coats, baggy trousers, and rolled-brim derby hats. On our canes we had ribbons of the college colors, pink and blue.”

Marion said Syracuse won the meet and when they tried to “whoop it up” it was difficult because of their team colors.

“What kind of “whoopee” can be made with pink and blue, the pale kind you use on babies’ what-do-you-call-thems? It just couldn’t be done,” he said.

Marion claims it was on a train ride back from Utica when he and his teammates decided that on Monday they would plead their case to the University for a change in colors.  A campus campaign to pick new colors began almost immediately and it was discovered that no colleges or universities had claimed orange as their official color.  Because Syracuse athletes were donned in Orange, they were quickly referred to as the “Orangemen.”

In 2004, the school announced that the nickname was being changed to the gender neutral “Orange,” dropping the ‘men’ and ‘women’ from their sports program.

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