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Iowa History Daily: October 5 - Herky and His Home

Iowa History Daily: On October 5, two iconic University of Iowa firsts occurred: in 1929 the Hawkeyes played the first football game at Kinnick Stadium (then Iowa Stadium), and in 1956 the first live iteration of popular mascot Herky debuted at a university pep rally.

Starting in 1928, crews relied on horses and mules to move earth as they started a seven-month long construction process on a new home for Hawkeye football. Legend holds workers buried exhausted horses which died during the process under the North End Zone. The round-the-clock work schedule allowed the Hawkeyes to open the stadium with a 46-0 win over Monmouth College in October of 1929.

Although Herky wouldn’t debut in the flesh for almost another 30 years, the mascot dates back to Iowa’s earliest history. Following the Black Hawk War of 1832, Burlington newspaper man suggested the nickname ‘Hawk-Eyes’ for Iowans in order to memorialize the Sauk leader and he renamed his paper the ‘Burlington Hawkeye.’ Eventually the State took on the moniker “The Hawkeye State,” and the University of Iowa followed, as well.

As sports teams started to adopt cartoon logos of mascots during the 1940s, University of Iowa athletics business director Frank Havlicek asked journalism instructor Dick Spencer (Richard Spencer III) to draw the original Hawkeye bird. John Franklin of Belle Plaine won a statewide contest to name the bird, suggesting ‘Herky’ as an ode to Hercules from Greek mythology. Almost a decade later, the first costumed Herky appeared and quickly became a fan favorite. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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