Sometimes you need to be obvious about your mascot name. Sometimes you just have to have some dude out there instead of the actual mascot. In this week’s Mascot Monday’s case, sometimes you need both. The Toledo Rockets fly straight out of the MAC and have been piloted by Rocky the Rocket the whole time. We’ll fly into space this week and come back with a little video game nostalgia. Those in the know will know where I”m going with this.
Toledo first began life as a private university in 1872 geared toward private arts and trade. The football team’s first season wasn’t until 1917 and they lost their first game to the University of Detroit 145-0. The Rocket name came from a game against Carnegie Tech, where the team enjoyed two long touchdowns against the formidable opponent. Success on the field was not absent as they’ve had a couple of undefeated seasons, including 1995 when a young Gary Pinkel coached the team.
So the football program had its ups and downs, but what about the mascot? Well, Rock the Rocket didn’t take the field until 1968 with Bill Navarre shouldering the duties. The spacey motif helped Toledo acquire an authentic spacesuits in the late 1970s, thanks to fellow Ohio native and astronaut John Glenn. The suits been through alot of changes after that with its most recent change coming in 2008. From what I can tell, there hasn’t been many awards tossed Rocky’s way, but he maintains high spirits at super fast speeds.
It’s all in the costume, really, so let’s take a look at it. Rocky the Rocket is a man in a space suit, but more than just that. He’s got moon boots to match his bright, yellow gloves. The blue spandexy suit protects him well enough. The Toledo logo announces itself on his chest. Finally the helmet went from regular size to cartoon huge size, with a blue visor and big yellow fin on top. I think Rocky looks great. If you look close enough, you can tell why.
Back in my day, I whittled walking sticks, listened to 8 track tapes, and played the Nintendo Entertainment System. One of my favorite groups of games were the Mega Man series. Rocky the Rocket looks like a character in those games. Whether he’s a bad guy or Mega Man himself, the image matches exactly how the characters are portrayed in the game. In fact, the Japanese version of Mega Man was called Rock Man. Whoever was responsible for this new design had to have been inspired just a little bit by the classic video game series.
I think I’ll leave it at that. There’s nothing much else to say about Rocky the Rocket. The costume upgrade gets As across the board for me, with extra credit going to the fresh Mega Man look. I’m not sure if Rocky does acrobatic stunts during games but I hope that he gets shot out of a rocket at least once or twice a year. The University of Toledo has a winner with Rocky the Rocket and he should be contending for some mascot awards real soon. With Rocky, the sky’s the limit.