Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York  

Ram Tales

The new Ram mascot, designed to look fiercer and more athletic than his predecessors, took over official cheering duties at Homcoming 2008 on Oct. 25.
In the article “The Ram: Notes on the History and Many Faces of Fordham’s Mascot,” published in the fall 2008 issue of FORDHAM magazine, we invited readers to share with us their favorite Ram memories and stories. Since the publication of the article, we have received more than a few responses from alumni, some of whom helped us set the record straight on a few historical Ram milestones.

Peter Paolucci, FCRH ’61, a former Ram Keeper and member of the Booster Club, noted that Ray Carew, CBA ’61, was the first Fordham student to don the ram costume—and not Richard Gazzola, FCRH ’66, as we mistakenly reported.

“The Class of 1961 Ram Keepers started the Ram costume tradition during the 1960-1961 basketball season. The Booster Club provided the funds to have the Ram costume made as an extra-added attraction to our spirit program at Fordham. It enabled us to display a mascot at away games and in Madison Square Garden as well as at Rose Hill. And the first person to wear this costume, in January 1961, was Ray Carew, CBA ’61. … Bob Merrigan, CBA ’62, and I also wore it during that season.”

Several alumni, including Chris Proto, FCRH ’76, recalled the presence of a live ram on campus during the 1970s, even as the human mascot took center stage at University sporting events.

“There used to be some dilapidated greenhouses behind Queen’s Court, adjacent to the Metro North tracks,” Proto wrote. “There was a little stone house. Hay was scattered everywhere around the pen, and that little barn was where they kept the mascot.”

Joe Rychalski, CBA ’78, recalled regularly sharing his snacks with a live ram on campus as late as spring 1975.

“I distinctly remember buying my lunch,” he wrote, “and then stopping to feed some chips or a piece of my sandwich to the current Ram resident nearby.”

In 1960, presidential candidate Richard Nixon made a campaign stop at Fordham's Rose Hill campus and quickly recruited Rameses XIX to his cause.
Pete McErlean, FCRH ’62, raised an interesting point about the 19th-century cheer that inspired the University’s nickname: “Good thing the Jesuit faculty back in 1893 thought that the gentlemen were cheering ‘One DAMN, etc.’ or ‘ram’ may never have been substituted for the offending word, and the mascot may have turned out to be a dam, if that’s even possible.”

Gerry Haggerty, FCRH ’60, a former president of the Fordham Booster Club and a one-time Ram Keeper, reminded us that Rameses XVIII’s presence on campus endures four decades later: “Clippings from the wool coat of Rameses XVIII and a 1960 Ram Share (a stock certificate sold at the time for 50 cents each, to help raise money for the care and feeding of the ram) were placed in a time capsule in the corner stone of the McGinley Center.”

Haggerty also shared with us a photo of Rameses XIX posing with Richard Nixon in 1960, when Nixon made a campaign visit to Rose Hill and cleverly recruited Fordham’s mascot to his cause. Nixon also met with members of the Booster Club, including Haggerty, Ray Carew (kneeling), Peter Paolucci (in ROTC uniform) and Bob Furphy, FCRH '61.

In 1949, Mark P. Gaynor, FCRH ’52, was asked to transport the University’s mascot to West Point for the Fordham-Army football game. “Another (student-worker) and I did so and had the honor of marching the ram into Michie Stadium—quite a memory,” he wrote, “and we got to see the game for free!”

During the 1950s, according to Martin F. Sheehan, UGE ’56, a Rameses of some order made an appearance with the University’s Glee Club on the Steve Allen Show. The Glee Club was impressive, Sheehan wrote, but “Ramses stole the night.”

Fordham football co-captains Mike Kochel (left), FCRH '39, and Harry Jacunski, FCRH '39, pose with Rameses VIII at Rose Hill.
Kathryn Barrett-Gaines, FCRH ’87, the University’s second female mascot, described the difficulties of wearing the old mascot costume, which was not nearly as well ventilated as the newly designed costume seen at Homecoming 2008 on Oct. 25. “The heavy head pressed down on the shoulders making it impossible to lift your arms. I had to low five the basketball players as they ran onto the court because I couldn’t lift my arms to high-five them. My big move was to slide across the floor on my knees.”

“I have great memories,” she added. “Despite being warm and weighed down, I loved being the Ram.”

Ralph St. Pierre, FCRH ’41, correctly identified the players with Rameses VIII in one of the archival photographs we published in "The Ram." They are Mike Kochel, FCRH ’39, and Harry Jacunski, FCRH ’39, co-captains of the 1938 football team and members of the famed Seven Blocks of Granite. 

Peter Frankel, GBA ’95, who currently lives in Big 12 country, wrote to tell us that he regales his Midwestern neighbors with stories about Vince Lombardi, FCRH ’37, the Seven Blocks of Granite and Fordham’s dominance of college football throughout the 1930s. He said he now has something else to brag about. “I was thrilled to read some history of Fordham sports and its mascot,” he wrote. “I will look at my school with new pride.” 

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