Growing up a Razorback fan, it’s hard to believe that 100 years ago, there were no Arkansas Razorbacks. In fact, there were no school colors of red and white at the University of Arkansas that we’ve all become so accustomed to. More than 100 years ago, we were the Arkansas Cardinals, and our colors were purple and yellow.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the season that then Arkansas coach Hugo Bezdek declared the Arkansas Cardinals played like “a wild band of Razorback Hogs” after the team returned from a 16-0 defeat of LSU in 1909. The following year, Arkansas changed its mascot from the Cardinals to the Razorbacks, and the rest is history.
Searcy’s Mike Bradford holds one of the few remaining relics of the era of the Arkansas Cardinals. Bradford’s grandfather played for the 1909 team, and Bradford inherited a pennant belonging to his grandfather that is over 100 years old. According to Bradford, it is the only known pennant of its kind in existence.
“Both my grandfather, W. E. Bradford and my dad W. S. Bradford went to the U of A. My grandfather got the pennant while in school there. I know he played on the 1908-1910 teams,” Bradford said. “My grandfather played right end.”
Bradford inherited the pennant in 2007 when his father, W. S. Bradford passed away. He has since taken the 100-year-old relic to be appraised by Antique Road Show who told him that the pennant was priceless because of its one-of-a-kind status.
“According to the roadshow, the sky is the limit,” Bradford said. “I’ve turned down $100,000.”
The Arkansas Cardinal pennant is 55 inches long and the coloring of the Arkansas Cardinals was similar to that of modern day LSU. Also of note, the “cardinal” on the pennant looks more like a hawk. Nevertheless, it is a rare piece of Arkansas history.
Bradford never had the chance to meet his grandfather who played on the undefeated 1909 team, but the pennant that his grandfather held on to for so long remains as not only a priceless family heirloom for Bradford, but one of the few remnants of the Cardinal era.