The Stanford Axe is a trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Big Game, a college football match-up between the University of California Golden Bears and the Stanford University Cardinal. The trophy consists of an axe-head mounted on a large wooden plaque, along with the scores of past Big Games. Cal captured the Axe in 2019 after defeating Stanford 24–20 to break Stanford's nine-year streak of holding the Axe, the longest such streak for either team in the history of Big Game.
The Stanford Axe was originally a standard 12-inch lumberman's axe. It made its first appearance on April 13, 1899 during a Stanford rally when yell leaders used it to decapitate a straw man dressed in blue and gold ribbons while chanting the Axe yell, which was based on The Frogs by Aristophanes (Brekekekèx-koàx-koáx):
|Stanford (47)||California (34)|
|1950* 1953* 1988†|
|*Axe retained by California|
|†Axe retained by Stanford|
The Axe made its second appearance two days later on April 15, 1899 at a Cal-Stanford baseball game played at 16th Street and Folsom in San Francisco. Led by Billy Erb, the Stanford yell leaders paraded the Axe and used it to chop up blue and gold ribbon after every good play by the Stanford team, while shouting the Axe yell. However, Stanford lost the game and the series, and the yell leaders debated if the Axe was a jinx and whether to dispose of it.
As Stanford students discussed the Axe's fate, a group of Cal students seized it and ran off with the Axe. It in turn was passed from student to student, and a chase ensued through the streets of San Francisco, first followed by Stanford students and fans and second followed by the San Francisco police. During the chase, the Axe's handle was broken off.
Cal student Clint Miller, who was wearing an overcoat so he could easily conceal the axe head, was the last to handle the Axe. As he reached the Ferry Building, he noticed the police inspecting the pockets of every boarding male passenger. As luck would have it, Miller encountered an old girlfriend, Agnes. Posing as a couple, the two successfully boarded the narrow gauge ferry to Alameda/Oakland (to avoid the police searching those buying tickets to Berkeley). Miller may have boarded the Southern Pacific steam ferryboat Berkeley (currently part of the San Diego Maritime Museum).From there Miller took the Axe back to Berkeley where it was first stored in a fraternity (Chi Phi), and later in a bank vault. Two days later, Cal held its first Axe Rally.
For the next 31 years, the Axe stayed in Berkeley as a prize of conquest. In 1930, 21 Stanford students plotted to take back the Axe from Cal. This group became known in Stanford lore as the Immortal 21; Cal partisans call them the Immoral 21.
Cal's protection of the Axe at the time was intense—it was kept in a Berkeley bank vault and brought out, in an armored car, only for spring baseball and Big Game rallies. The Stanford group decided that their best chance would be right after the spring Axe rally, held that year on April 3 at Cal's Greek Theatre
After the rally, four Stanford students posing as photographers temporarily blinded Norm Horner, the Grand Custodian of the Axe, with camera flashes. In the subsequent scuffle, the Stanford students grabbed the Axe while several others disguised as Cal students tossed a tear gas (or smoke, depending on account) bomb at the Cal students who guarded it. The Axe was taken to one of three cars which sped off in different directions. Several other Stanford students (disguised as Cal students) further delayed attempts to recover the Axe by organizing a search party away from the direction of the getaway cars. Although several of the raiders were caught, the Axe made it back to Stanford where it was paraded around the campus.
For three years after the raid on Berkeley the Stanford Axe lay in a Palo Alto bank vault while both universities decided what to do with it. In 1933, both sides agreed to designate the Axe as the annual trophy to be awarded to the Big Game's winner; in the event of a tie, it would be kept by the side already possessing the Axe.
However, the agreement did not stop students from both schools from stealing (or attempting to steal) the Axe. Since 1933, Cal students have stolen the Axe three times and Stanford students four times; the most recent incident occurred in 1973. On January 28, 1978, a group of Cal students paraded a carefully constructed replica of the Axe across the court of Stanford's Maples Pavilion during the Cal-Stanford basketball game. This "Fake Axe" stunt led to erroneous reports in the following day's papers that the Axe had been stolen, therefore some sources report 1978 as the most recent theft.
Depending on which school holds the Axe, the trophy's recorded score for the 1982 Big Game is changed. This is part of the continuing dispute surrounding The Play, the last play in the final seconds of the 1982 game, which ended with a kickoff return marked by five laterals, the Stanford Band thinking the game was over and rushing the field, and then a touchdown run through the band featuring the last Cal returner bowling over a Stanford trombone player in the end zone. Referees declared the touchdown as legal and California the winner of the game. However, Stanford contends that one of the five laterals on that play was an illegal forward pass and that a Cal player was tackled before he lateraled the ball. As a result, whenever Stanford wins the Axe, the 1982 score is changed on the trophy from "California 25, Stanford 20" to read "California 19, Stanford 20." Despite this practice, the official score must be on the Axe prior to the start of each Big Game no matter who has it at the time.
When Stanford has the Axe, it is guarded by the Stanford Axe Committee and kept in a secret location, when not on display in the lobby of the Arrillaga Sports Center. When California is in possession of the Axe, the Chairman of the UC Rally Committee acts as its custodian. It is generally displayed in the lobby of the Martin Luther King Junior Student Union Building.
During the Big Game, the Stanford Axe is displayed by the school that won the Big Game during the previous year. The Stanford Axe is transferred at the Big Game during what is known as "The Stare Down." With two minutes remaining in the Big Game, the Stanford Axe is brought to the 50 yard line, where members of the UC Rally Committee and the Stanford Axe Committee wait until the end of the game to determine who will take the Axe. Once the game ends, the winner of Big Game takes possession of the Axe until the next Big Game is played.
Currently, Cal has the Axe after winning the 122nd Big Game on November 23, 2019 by the score of 24–20, breaking Stanford's nine-game streak of holding the Axe, the longest such streak by either team in the history of the series.
Although Stanford leads the all-time series before and after the use of the Axe as a trophy, California still has held the Axe for a longer amount of time due to their 31 year possession before the recapture of the Axe by Stanford. During the time the Axe has been used as a trophy, Stanford has held it 47 times to California's 34.
The Daily Californian is an independent, student-run newspaper that serves the University of California, Berkeley campus and its surrounding community. It publishes a print edition four days a week on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday during the academic year, and twice a week during the summer. Established in 1871, The Daily Californian is one of the oldest newspapers on the West Coast, and one of the oldest college newspapers in the United States. Current circulation is about 10,000 for a campus of roughly 35,000 students.
Big Game is the name given to the California–Stanford football rivalry. It is an American college football rivalry game played by the California Golden Bears football team of the University of California, Berkeley and the Stanford Cardinal football team of Stanford University. Both institutions are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. First played in 1892, it is one of the oldest college rivalries in the United States. The game is typically played in late November or early December, and its location alternates between the two universities every year. In even-numbered years, the game is played at Berkeley, while in odd-numbered years it is played at Stanford.
The Oski Yell is the University of California Berkeley spirit yell from which Cal's mascot, Oski the Bear, derives his name. Although Oski appeared in 1941, the yell was first performed around the turn of the 20th century. The yell's origins are uncertain, although the University of Illinois originated a similar yell in 1899. Another early version is credited to Vince Wirtz, who led a similar cheer beginning in the 1920s at football games for Hamilton, Ontario teams.
California Memorial Stadium is an outdoor football stadium on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California. Commonly known as Memorial Stadium, it is the home field for the University of California Golden Bears of the Pac-12 Conference. The venue opened in 1923 and currently seats around 63,000 fans for football. The playing field runs NW-SE, at an elevation of 410 feet above sea level. It has been named one of the top college football stadiums by various publications, and it was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on November 27, 2006.
The Play was a last-second kickoff return during a college football game between the Stanford Cardinal and California Golden Bears on Saturday, November 20, 1982. Given the circumstances and rivalry, the wild game that preceded it, the very unusual way in which The Play unfolded, and its lingering aftermath on players and fans, it is recognized as one of the most memorable plays in college football history and among the most memorable in American sports.
The University of California Marching Band, usually shortened to Cal Band, is the marching band for the University of California, Berkeley. While the Cal Band is student-run, it is administered under the auspices of the university and represents Cal at sporting events and social gatherings. The name of the band is "The University of California Band" by the constitution, but is typically called "The University of California Marching Band" or "The Cal Band". When the band marches out of Memorial Stadium's North Tunnel for football pre-games, it is referred to as "The Pacesetter of College Marching Bands, the Pride of California".
Berkeley was one of several ferryboats of the Southern Pacific Railroad that for sixty years operated on San Francisco Bay between the Oakland Pier and the San Francisco Ferry Building. Built in 1898 by the Union Iron Works of San Francisco, she served after the 1906 earthquake, ferrying refugees across the bay to Oakland.
The California Golden Bears are the athletic teams that represent the University of California, Berkeley. Referred to in athletic competition as California or Cal, the university fields 30 varsity athletic programs and various club teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)'s Division I primarily as a member of the Pac-12 Conference, and for a limited number of sports as a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF). Over the course of the school's history, California has won team national titles in 13 men's and 3 women's sports and 107 team titles overall. Cal athletes have also competed in the Olympics for a host of different countries. Notable facilities used by the Bears include California Memorial Stadium (football) and Haas Pavilion. Cal finished the 2010–11 athletic season with 1,219.50 points, earning third place in the Director's Cup standings, the Golden Bears' highest finish ever. Cal did not receive any points for its national championships in rugby and men's crew because those sports are not governed by the NCAA. Cal finished 12th in the 2014-15 standings.
Tightwad Hill is the popular name for Charter Hill, the hill rising to the east of California Memorial Stadium at the University of California, Berkeley. Tightwad Hill is so named as it affords a free view of the stadium's field, allowing fans of the Golden Bears to see the game free. The hill usually has its occupants, even when the stadium sports empty seats.
The California Golden Bears football program represents the University of California, Berkeley, in college football as a member of the Pac-12 Conference at the NCAA Division I FBS level. The team plays its home games at California Memorial Stadium and is coached by Justin Wilcox. Since beginning of play in 1886, the team has won five NCAA recognized national titles - 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, and 1937 and 14 conference championships, the last one in 2006. It has also produced what are considered to be two of the oddest and most memorable plays in college football: Roy "Wrong Way" Riegels' fumble recovery at the 1929 Rose Bowl and The Play kickoff return in the 1982 Big Game.
The 2007 California Golden Bears football team represented the University of California, Berkeley in the 2007 NCAA Division I FBS football season. They played their home games at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California and were coached by Jeff Tedford.
The California Indian Song was a school fight song of the University of California, Berkeley, written by Harold Bingham in 1907 celebrating the rivalry between the California Golden Bears and the Stanford Cardinal. At that time, the mascot of Stanford University was the Stanford Indian, but the mascot was abandoned in 1972 because it was considered offensive. The California Indian Song was also abandoned, but has recently found a new fan base among Golden Bears fans.
"The Stanford Jonah" is a fight song of the University of California, Berkeley written in 1913 by Ted Haley as an entry into a song contest held by the Daily Californian. The song gained popularity when the campus glee club traveled to Europe where the song was a hit and it continues to be a hit at most sporting events, but specifically at events between the California Golden Bears and their rival, the Stanford Cardinal. Georgia Tech's "White And Gold", The Naval Academy's "Up With The Navy", and the University of Montana's "Up With Montana" share this tune as well.
Rockin' thru the Rockies is a 1940 short subject directed by Jules White starring American slapstick comedy team The Three Stooges. It is the 45th entry in the series released by Columbia Pictures starring the comedians, who released 190 shorts for the studio between 1934 and 1959.
The 2008 Stanford Cardinal football team represented Stanford University in the 2008 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The team's head coach was Jim Harbaugh, who entered his second year at Stanford. The team played their home games at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, California and competed in the Pacific-10 Conference. The Cardinal improved on their 4–8 record from the 2007 season by going 5–7. After winning back the Stanford Axe from rival California in 2007 for the first time in five years, Stanford lost the Axe to Cal in the 2008 Big Game.
The 1982 Stanford Cardinal football team represented Stanford University in the 1982 NCAA Division I-A football season. This was the first year the team was called the singular Cardinal, representing the color; from 1972 to 1981, the team was referred to as the Cardinals.
The 2007 Stanford Cardinal football team represented Stanford University in the 2007 NCAA Division I FBS football season. In Jim Harbaugh's inaugural season at Stanford, the 41-point underdog Cardinal pulled off the second greatest point-spread upset in college football history by defeating the #1 USC Trojans in a mid-season game. To cap off Harbaugh's first season, the Cardinal defeated archrival Cal in Stanford's final game of the season to win the Stanford Axe for the first time in six years.
The 2010 California Golden Bears football team represented the University of California, Berkeley in NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) competition in the 2010 season. The Golden Bears were led by ninth-year head coach Jeff Tedford.
The 2018 California Golden Bears football team represented the University of California, Berkeley in the 2018 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Bears went 7–6 during Justin Wilcox's second year as head coach. The Bears upset #15 Washington 12–10 and defeated USC 15–14 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles to snap a 14-year losing streak to the Trojans. They lost 10–7 in overtime to TCU in the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl.
The 2019 California Golden Bears football team represented the University of California, Berkeley in the 2019 NCAA Division I FBS football season. They competed as members of the North Division of the Pac-12 Conference. In their third year under head coach Justin Wilcox, the Bears improved to an 8–5 record for only the second time since 2009, finishing 2nd in the Pac-12 North.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Stanford Axe .|