Flashback Minis | The History of YSU’s Penguin Mascot

Youngstown State University’s basketball team was first called the Penguins in 1931, however the mascot did not become official until the first football team was formed in 1938.

Through the years, the school would have three different live penguin mascots. Pete I came in 1939 and was extremely popular with students and the community. After the passing of Pete I in 1941, YSU’s second mascot was purchased with $200 in donations from students.

Pete II came with a mate who soon became known as Patricia. Unfortunately, the couple would pass away in 1942. The last live Mascot, Pete III, would be purchased in 1968 by the student council. He had a special cage on campus next to Tod Hall and spent his summers at the Pittsburgh Zoo until he died in 1972.

The first costumed mascot came in 1965 when student Vic Rubenstein donned a tuxedo and a penguin mask. YSU’s athletic department purchased a full-size penguin costume in the 1980s and, shortly after, a second penguin – Penny – would come into the picture.

Pete married Penny in 1986 and renewed their vows in 2018 with a ceremony being led by YSU president Jim Tressel.

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