Bennie the Bengal Tiger

1959 picture of Bennie the Bengal Tiger
1959 picture of Bennie the Bengal Tiger

A major turning point in Riverside City College athletics, and for that matter the entire college, came in the fall of 1919.  Just how momentous a decision was made we’ll have to leave to your imaginations, but the issue was this: the college colors were lavender and purple. The "Junior College Notes" of November 26, 1919, comments, "Some members of the staff and student body are anxious to have the school colors changed also. At present they are lavender and purple, and many students are dissatisfied. A vote will be taken Monday to see whether the student body as a whole is desirous of the change or not."

Unfortunately, the 1920 annual does not tell us the outcome of the student body vote; yet there's an enticing entry for January 10, 1920 — "Boys get uniforms." Surely they weren't lavender and purple! If so, that might explain the 36-10 and 45-5 losses they suffered,

Just how the college colors became orange and black is not known. Speculation has it that the influence of A. G. Paul and other popular faculty from Occidental College played a part. And Occidental probably took its colors from its sister Presbyterian school, Princeton. The first issue of The Junior College, September 24, 1923, is printed on orange paper and carries an editorial which says, "We hope you will not overlook the color combination of this our first issue of the College. It was done especially for those entering junior college for the first time, Orange and Black are the college colors, and we hope in this way to impress them firmly upon your minds, for they're splendid colors and we're all mighty proud of them,'

As for nicknames and mascot, there is also some mystery. An April 28, 1924, Junior College refers to Terracina Tech in a baseball story, but the 1925 Tequesquite uses "Tigers" for the first time in its article on football: "Jesse Hill and a gang of rupping, smashing Tiger gridders brought the first football championship to Riverside Junior College …”

The first Tequesquite to use a Tiger on the cover appears in 1928. The word Bengal appears in a headline for the first time on February 4, 1927.  By that time, the term Tiger is being used in sports stories in the Press. Fall issues of the Junior College in 1925 use Tigers. The Tiger mascot is a natural for the colors orange and black and, like the colors, probably derived from Occidental College.

(This information is from the Riverside City College A 65 Year History)