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Dick Jacobs, ASU's Original Sun Devil Mascot, Dies At 91

By Paul Atkinson, Mark Brodie, Steve Goldstein
Published: Friday, January 31, 2020 - 1:05pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 12:43pm

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Dick Jacobs Original ASU Sparky the Sun Devil
University Archives Photographs, Arizona State University Libraries
Dick Jacobs was the first performing Sun Devil 1951-1953, along with the Sparkettes.

MARK BRODIE: The original Sparky is dead. Not the mascot itself, but the first person to put on the Sun Devil caricature. His name is Dick Jacobs. He died Tuesday at the age of 91.

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: When Arizona State University was looking for someone to don its newly designed mascot in 1951, Jacobs was the only student to show up. His audition included handstands and somersaults.

BRODIE: Jacobs was an ASU gymnast in 1951 when he became the first ever Sparky. And he didn’t disappoint. He was known for doing handstands. But not just anywhere. Care to take a guess where he dared perform the devilish feat?

GOLDSTEIN: In the stands?

BRODIE: On the goalpost. He did handstands on the goalpost! When have you ever seen a mascot do that?

GOLDSTEIN: I have never seen that.

BRODIE: I have not either. After graduation, Jacobs hitchhiked across the world and wrote a book about it. He was the gymnastics coach at Carl Hayden High School and served as a coach and athletic director at schools around the world.

GOLDSTEIN: The original Sparky, Dick Jacobs, passed away this week. No word yet, Mark, if Sparky’s weapon of choice — the pitchfork — has been lowered at ASU in his honor.

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