Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State Spartans Football History

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The School Colors

Details are sketchy as to when Michigan State athletic teams officially began using the school colors green and white. But records of the Athletic Association of the then Michigan Agricultural College show that on April 11, 1899, the organization took steps toward adoption of a green monogram, "to be worn only by athletes who subsequently Michigan State football historytake part in intercollegiate events."

It is generally thought the colors came into wide use with the arrival in 1903 of Chester L. Brewer as the school's first full-time director of athletics. Brewer also coached the Spartan football, basketball, baseball and track teams, the only varsity units in existence at the time.

The Nickname

In 1926, Michigan State's first southern baseball training tour provided the setting for the birth of the "Spartan" nickname.

It all came about when a Lansing sportswriter imposed the silent treatment on a contest-winning nickname and substituted his own choice, the name that has lasted through the years.

In 1925, Michigan State College replaced the name Michigan Agricultural College. The college sponsored a contest to select a nickname to replace "Aggies" and picked "The Michigan Staters."

George S. Alderton, then sports editor of the Lansing State Journal, decided the name was too cumbersome for newspaper writing and vowed to find a better one.

Alderton contacted Jim Hasselman of Information Services to see if entries still remained from the contest. When informed that they still existed, Alderton ran across the entry name of "Spartans" and then decided that was the choice. Unfortunately, Alderton forgot to write down who submitted that particular entry, so that part of the story remains a mystery.

Rewriting game accounts supplied by Perry Fremont, a catcher on the squad, Alderton first used the name sparingly and then ventured into the headlines with it. (Incidentally, after two days of spelling the name incorrectly with an "o", Mr. Alderton changed it to Spartan on a tip from a close friend.) Dale Stafford, a sports writer for the Lansing Capitol News, a rival of the State Journal, picked up the name for his paper after a couple of days. Alderton called Stafford and suggested that he might want to join the Spartan parade and he did. As Mr. Alderton explains: "No student, alumnus or college official had called up the editor to complain about our audacity in giving the old school a new name, so we ventured into headlines with it. Happily for the experiment, the name took. It began appearing in other newspapers and when the student publication used it, that clinched it."

Spartan Mascot

Sparty has gained great national visibility lately, a tribute to its cool design as well as to the efforts behind the MSUAA's mascot program.

He's our own jolly green giant. Lovable, huggable, and for Spartans of every age, ever so photo-poseable.

In the fall of 1995, MSU's beloved Sparty leaped into national celebrity in the same dramatic fashion that gymnast Kerri Strug vaulted into Olympian history at the Atlanta games. It happened when ESPN showed Sparty holding Strug--"Beauty and the Beast" style--in its national advertising campaign for "SportsCenter."

As "beasts" go, however, Sparty is way-cool. He's massive, but cartoon-cute. The seven-foot costume weighs in at 30 pounds, allowing enough flexibility for playful gestures and animation. To Spartan fans, his national popularity came as no surprise.

MSU Fight Song

On the banks of the Red Cedar
Is a school that's known to all;
Its specialty is winning,
And those Spartans play good ball;
Spartan teams are never beaten,
All through the games they fight;
Fight for the only colors,
Green and White.
Go right thru' for MSU,
Watch the points keep growing.
Spartan teams are bound to win,
They're fighting with a vim.
See their team is weakening,
We're going to win this game.
Fight! Fight! Rah! Team, Fight!
Victory for MSU.

MSU Shadows (Alma mater)

MSU, we love thy shadows
When twilight silence falls,
Flushing deep and softly paling
O'er ivy covered halls;
Beneath the pines we'll gather
To give our faith so true,
Sing our love for Alma Mater
And thy praises, MSU.

When from these scenes we wander
And twilight shadows fade,
Our mem'ry still will linger
Where light and shadows played;
In the evening oft we'll gather
And pledge our faith anew,
Sing our love for Alma Mater
And thy praise, MSU.

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