100 years of URI’s Rhody the Ram

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 8, 2023 – He’s taken on Blue Devils, Jayhawks, Bears, Friars, Huskies, Wildcats, Tar Heels and Owls, among many other foes. He’s endured the sold out sauna of Keaney Gymnasium, and braved the wind, rain and cold of Meade Stadium.

But as Rhody the Ram celebrates his 100th birthday today, the old dog, eh ram, has never looked better, representing a University that has grown from a state college in the 1920s to its current status as a global research university.

How it all began

Selected as the mascot in 1923, the Battering Ram made its first official appearance in 1929 when Rhode Island State College played Connecticut.

For big football games against foes like Connecticut in the days of the old Yankee Conference, it was common for students to paint Battering Ram’s horns blue.

As the decades passed and Rhode Island State College grew into the University of Rhode Island, his name was changed to Ramses. In the 1960s, a live male sheep still patrolled the sidelines at Meade Stadium for a time, but the mascot was eventually represented by a student in a ram costume.

Now known as Rhody the Ram to hundreds of thousands of alumni and sports fans around the world, he has his own Wikipedia entry. Everyone has their favorite memories, whether they are of Rhody sliding down the stairs on a plastic sled at storied Keaney Gym, or seeing him put an inner tube over the St. Joseph’s University Hawk in 1998 to stop him from flapping his wings. That misdeed earned Rhody a scolding from the NCAA, a national audience on ESPN and a Rhode Island Monthly cartoon.

DOWN MEMORY LANE: Rhody checks out yearbooks in the Alumni Center. URI photo by Nora Lewis

The stories seem endless—Rhody shooting baskets during halftime at the Ryan Center, holding up a huge janitor’s mop behind the opponent’s basket to distract a rival at the free throw line, dancing at center court along with the Ramettes in the 1970s at what was then called the Providence Civic Center, greeting smiling kids and posing for pictures with them, and generally bringing that indomitable Rhody spirit to University events. He’s been dressed in a tuxedo for appearances at the former Winter Gala and the Distinguished Achievement Awards and has been on hand to celebrate groundbreakings for and opening ceremonies of URI’s largest and most important buildings.

His look has changed numerous times during his 100 years, but his blood has always run Keaney Blue.

Here are some other highlights:

October 2002 – URI establishes Rhody the Ram Endowment for a scholarship to support the student volunteers who serve as Rhody The Ram. The job requires major time commitments and in the past had not provided volunteers with compensation. Those who might have been interested, but who worked to support their studies, might have found it difficult to fit Rhody The Ram duties into their schedules.

February 2004 – Division of University Advancement publishes “Cooking with Rhody, A Collection of Recipes from the Division of University Advancement.” Thirty-four staff members contributed 150 recipes. Proceeds for the sale of the book benefited the Rhody the Ram Endowment.

June 2004 – First Rhody the Ram Yard Sale to benefit the endowment. Continues each year through July 2013. 

March 8, 2008 – Rhody the Ram celebrates his 85th birthday at a men’s hoop game. Fans sing Happy Birthday to Rhody.

Feb. 25, 2009 – Rhody shows off his new costume, with a bright smile and buff physique. Arrives at Ryan Center in a limo as “paparazzi” surround him for that perfect photo.

2017 – Rhody attends numerous campus events, as well as the Washington County Fair and “WaterFire Providence” to celebrate URI’s 125th anniversary.