Excerpted from The Reporter, Spring 2023.
The story behind Trinity College’s beloved Bantam, it has been written, goes something like this: The Honorable Joseph Buffington, Trinity Class of 1875, who served as a trustee of the College and as a federal judge, also was known as a skilled public speaker. It was in Pittsburgh in spring 1899, at a meeting of the Princeton Alumni Association of Western Pennsylvania, that Buffington introduced the Trinity mascot of the future. Noting the competitiveness and spirit–in athletics and more–of Trinity students and likening the college landscape to that of a barnyard, Buffington referred to a bantam, an independent and spirited animal. “The Trinity [B]antam ever feels that whatever company is fit for him to be at, he is entirely fit to be there,” he said.
Referring to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton as the big shots of the “collegiate barnyard,” he described Trinity as a proud, little bantam, “not a whit abashed at your hugeness, [and] satisfied with himself and his own particular coop.”
Sports media picked up on it and began referencing the Bantam as the college’s mascot. And the rest, as they say, is history.