Herky has been given a new look this year, but that shouldn't faze the CSUS mascot much. Herky is, after all, a hornet that's been mutated through so many faces, bodies, uniforms and wings that it's safe to say nobody has a complete handle on all his looks. He was "embracing change" long before it became a trendy business mantra.
"Herky seems to have changed according to the tastes of each new group of students. There have been countless versions," says Georgiana White of University Archives. "Personally, I love him. He's such an uncommon mascot with a great name."
At University Archives, Herky has his own file, a treasure-trove of Herkies past that's the most complete available.
For the venerable Herky, it all began the first semester of classes, at what was then known as Sacramento State College and located at the Sacramento City College campus.
The student council and the athletic department decided the new University needed an identity, and on Dec. 5, 1947 chose a hornet as the mascot. It beat out the elk, which wasn't considered aggressive enough. They also chose green and gold as the University's colors - green representing the foothills and trees, and gold representing discovery.
Strangely, though there's plenty of documentation about choosing the hornet as the mascot, the naming of Herky remains a bit of a mystery. It is relatively well-established, however, that the name is short for "Hercules."
Early images of Herky appeared on the covers of student handbooks in the 1950s. By the 1960s, the guides were occasionally named the "Herky Handbook."
On those covers, Herky ranged from a tough-looking, anthropomorphic hornet to a jolly humanoid figure with antennas. His wings sometimes grew huge, and at other times disappeared altogether. It seemed nobody could decide if Herky was a human with hornet attributes or a hornet with a touch of humanity.
The handbooks also often showed Herky waving an "SSC" flag or wearing University apparel on the covers.
In the late 1970s, Herky appeared on numerous women's athletics publications playing various sports. Some think "he" might actually have been a "she" in these cases. Either way, the idea was to present a consistent Herky character that could be used in a variety of athletic poses.
In the early 1990s, the University developed and trademarked a "Hornet of the 90s." It was a friendly character that, well-intentioned as it was, simply never was widely adopted by the University community and only technically made it through the decade.
Throughout the 1990s, other Herkies were generally used instead of the officially trademarked one. The most common has been the familiar, tough-looking Herky with a curved tail, prominent stinger, deep chest and "SAC" written across the sweatshirt. Among the variations of this one has been one spinning a basketball on his finger, one carrying a football and one about to head a soccer ball.