Logansport High School's Mascot, Felix the Cat, is the oldest recognized mascot in the state of Indiana. Born in 1926, Felix has endured many changes since the original one-foot-tall doll debuted. Since then, homemade dolls, a student in makeup, and two costumes have been used to inspire the fans of Logansport High School athletics. But how did Felix become the mascot of Berry sports? The answer is somewhat elusive.
The part of the story we know for certain is that Hall of Fame basketball coach Cliff Wells bought the doll late in the 1925-1926 season for star player Raymond “Curly” Hupp. We will never know if it was meant strictly as a gift or as inspiration for the team.
At least three versions of the Felix story have survived to this day. The first version was reported in the 1941 Tattler:
“In 1926, Coach Wells presented a little red and black cat to Curly Hupp … Immediately, this stuffed feline was christened Felix. For several weeks, Felix was held captive in a gym locker. But one evening, while an important game was going badly, Felix was taken from the locker and placed in the middle of the floor.” The game turned at that moment in favor of the Berries and they eventually won. Felix had solidified his place in Logansport High School history.”
This version may be somewhat credible. Coach Wells was still at Logansport High School in 1941. If he had a problem with the story as it was told, he apparently did not tell anyone.
A second version comes from former Logansport High School athletic director Jim Jones. In a 1986 interview, he stated the feline became the mascot during a road trip to Martinsville. The game was going badly and the stuffed cat was brought onto the court for good luck. It did the trick as Logansport rallied to victory.
Here is the problem with this version. Jones was right in that Logansport played Martinsville in 1926. It occurred at the State Tournament on March 20th. The part of the story that does not fit, however, is that the Berries lost that game 24-20. Coincidentally, Logansport played Martinsville again in 1927 at the State Tournament. They lost that match-up as well, 27-14.
Ralph “Red” Tucker told the third version of the story to the Pharos-Tribune for Felix’s 70th anniversary in 1996. After the basketball season of 1926, a banquet was held for all the players in the Rose Room of the Barnes Hotel. He contended that while walking to the hotel, the players passed a store window that contained a Felix doll. Upon seeing the doll, Coach Wells entered the store and bought it for the team — Curly in particular.
The only problem with Tucker’s story is that Felix was bought after the 1926 season. The Berries had been eliminated by Martinsville on March 20th in the State Finals, eleven days prior. If Felix made an appearance in a game, by Tucker’s recollection it had to have been during the 1926-1927, contradicting the other versions.
Outside the undisputed facts that Wells and Hupp were involved, we are left to speculate. Assuming the doll was first used in a game the Berries won, the Martinsville story holds little credibility. As for the other two versions, it is up to you to decide.