Off-Season Stories – The Platypus Trophy

Platypus Trophy following restoration in 2007

Half Beaver, Half Duck

by Travis Normand

This story came out last November (2012) but didn’t get much attention.  Now that it is mid-summer, it is a great time to revisit the story.  Hopefully this will help you pass the time until kick-off.

Also, this is one of the best rivalry trophies I have ever seen.  What other rivalry can say that characteristics of the mascots for each team involved in the rivalry actually come together somewhere in nature?  Is there an animal that is part Buckeye and part Wolverine? No. What about part ‘Gator and part Seminole? No.  Aggie and Longhorn?  No.  In my opinion, it would be a real shame for Oregon and Oregon State to NOT use the Platypus as their rivalry trophy.

In Oregon, Civil Rivalry but Quirky One
by Greg Bishop
Published: November 22, 2012
NYTimes.com

CORVALLIS, Ore. — In the broadest, most stereotypical sense, one of the oldest rivalries in college football pits Ducks against Beavers, hippies against farmers, liberals against conservatives. It is defined by proximity and mediocrity, by civility and acrimony, by close games and foul weather and the last 0-0 tie in Division I.

The Civil War, they call it.

The series started in 1894, when Oregon State University, then known as the Oregon Agricultural College, defeated the University of Oregon, 16-0. It will continue Saturday when two top-20 teams meet here for far more than local bragging rights.

For years, the programs seemed to lack a central ingredient to any rivalry: something to win. There was no Golden Egg (Mississippi and Mississippi State), no Keg of Nails (Louisville and Cincinnati) and no Apple Cup (Washington and Washington State).

This brings us to a mystery, to the story of the Platypus Trophy, once missing, stolen and lost — “I’ve heard rumors,” Oregon offensive lineman Nick Cody said — now found.

“I haven’t seen this since 2007,” Warren Spady said as he surveyed his handiwork this week.

Spady drew the platypus assignment in 1959, as an undergraduate at Oregon. He bought two blocks of wood and began to carve, using a stuffed platypus for inspiration. He worked day and night for a month, with four mallets and six chisels, until his forearms ached, until the beak resembled a Duck and the tail looked like that of a Beaver.

While he sanded the trophy smooth, the game approached. He never did finish the feet.

In the early 1960s, the trophy went missing for months, then years, then decades. In 1986, while on sabbatical at Oregon, Spady bumped into the platypus, his platypus, in a water polo trophy case on Oregon’s campus. Then it disappeared again.

Read the rest of this article HERE

You can also check out the Platypus Trophy Wikipedia page for more info.

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