This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

How Arizona State University became the Sun Devils


If you attended Arizona State College (now Arizona State University) in 1946, you may have had mixed feelings about the new name and mascot of a Sun Devil. For decades the team, and mascot, had been the Bulldogs. Of course the school colors had been Maroon and Gold since 1898, when the school teams had been called the Normals, after the original name of the school, the Tempe Normal School (normal was an old-fashioned term for a teacher's college, which taught teaching *norms*).


If you know your Arizona history, you know that the Phoenix area exploded in growth after World War II. And, of course, attendance of the college when up explosively, too. This caught the attention of the Chamber of Commerce, who figured that promoting athletics would be a good thing, both for the school and the entire community. And this was the beginning of the Sun Angel Foundation in 1946, which still exists to this day. It began with the Phoenix Thunderbirds, founded in 1937, who, by the way, are the hosts of the WM Phoenix Open Golf Tournament.

Berk Anthony and his cartoon creation *Sparky*.

When the Sun Angels suggested the name of the Sun Devils, the students at Arizona State overwhelmingly approved it. A couple of years later a cheerful cartoon of *Sparky* was created by Berk Anthony, who had been an animator for Disney. Sparky remains the mascot of Arizona State University to this day, although different logos have been used, including an ASU with a sunburst, and simply the pitchfork.If you attended Arizona State College (now Arizona State University) in 1946, you may have had mixed feelings about the new name and mascot of a Sun Devil. For decades the team, and mascot, had been the Bulldogs. Of course the school colors had been Maroon and Gold since 1898, when the school teams had been called the Normals, after the original name of the school, the Tempe Normal School (normal was an old-fashioned term for a teacher's college, which taught teaching *norms*).

Image at top: Sparky in 1965.


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