1962-1964 Al and Sally Herman Poland

First Lady Bird
CARDINAL BIRDS! – University of Louisville Mascots

In my continued search for information about the “early birds” I had the distinct pleasure to speak with Al Poland. He was the Cardinal Bird for the 1963-1964 sports season. He was helpful and full of stories and had lots of pictures which I will be publishing as I get them organized. It must be a requirement to be friendly and optimistic to be the Cardinal Bird because everyone I have had contact with is exactly that. I wonder if those characteristics are what lead people to become the University of Louisville Cardinal Bird or Lady Bird or if being the mascot instills those qualities. The nature versus nurture debate goes on. I believe it is a little of both. They go into it infused with good nature and cheer and the costume only magnifies what the mascot stands for. They are fine stewards of the legacy and everything the University of Louisville strives to represent. 

The good news is that Sally Herman Poland has written her own short excerpt about her memories of how she created the very first Lady Bird. I should add resourcefulness to the list of qualities above. Anyway, who best to hear from than the person who lived it. In her own words.


Sally Herman Poland 

LadyBird Cardinal 1962-1964

University of Louisville – A&S 1964

The idea of creating the LadyBird Cardinal occurred to me in the fall of 1962, my junior year at the University of Louisville.  Suddenly, I wanted to become the Cardinal Bird mascot.  Since the job was already taken, I had to be resourceful.   I don’t recall asking for permission or approval.  U of L was a small municipal university back in the 1960s, not yet part of the state system.  It was a friendly and informal campus where everybody seemed to know each other.

I proceeded to dream up a costume for LadyBird.  Al Poland, my future Cardinal Bird mate and husband, got to work constructing the head.  The base was a football helmet, covered in chicken-wire and papier-mâché.  Feminine features included long eyelashes, perky lips and an upturned hair-do.  [Al’s fraternity brother Derek Krieger painted the head].  I contacted a tailor to design a tuxedo jacket large enough to cover a pillow-stuffed chest.  But the cost was $50, a small fortune at a time when $200 covered tuition for one semester.  So somehow I arranged a lunch meeting with the president of the Alumni Association to explain my idea and my dilemma.  He wrote the check for $50!

When it was time for LadyBird to make her debut, we somehow managed to get a spot during half-time at one of the basketball games, asked a friend [another fraternity brother Frank Howe] to stand in as preacher, and orchestrated a wedding ceremony.  It was just that simple!

My Cardinal Bird partner for the 1962-63 basketball season was Lloyd Collins.  He then passed the honors along to Al.  Together Al and I had a very exciting time as the Cardinal Bird couple for the 1963-64 sports season.  Following graduation we became a married couple….that was 50 years ago!

We don’t know exactly how many years passed before our old bird heads were retired and the fuzzy fighting Cardinal became the official UofL mascot.  In 1996 there was a Cardinal Bird Homecoming Reunion.  Much to our amazement, that big red Cardinal Bird parachuted from a helicopter onto the football field, a feat unimagined by us “early birds!”

In recent years we have gotten to know Lowell Katz, who still uses “xbird” as part of his email address. Turns out Lowell performed as Cardinal Bird four seasons: 1966-1970.  He tells a great story of how he located the original Cardinal Bird head and had it restored to a place of honor in his home.  Inscribed inside are autographs of previous Cardinal Birds.  Sadly, we don’t know when LadyBird became extinct and what happened to her head. 

Recently Al and I returned to U of L to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our Graduation and induction into the Golden Alumni Society.   We were surprised and delighted to encounter Lowell Katz, wearing the Cardinal Bird head, going through his antics!  As we reminisced, we made a promise to track down all the “Early Bird” Cardinals.  We’ve already been in contact with some, but we don’t know about others.  If anyone has any Cardinal Bird information to share, please let us know:  salandal@sapoland.com

June 9, 2014


LIST OF “EARLY BIRDS” – 1959 to 1975?

Lady Bird
1959 – 60*Richard Dyson
1960 – 61*Sam Badgett
1961 – 62*Lloyd Collins
1962 – 63Lloyd CollinsSally Herman (Poland)
1963-64Al PolandSally Herman (Poland)
1964-65Phil Tamplin
*Alternate: Ted Bunta
*Ann Moon (Winchey)
*Alternate: Kay Kemble
1965-66*Phil Tamplin
*Alternate: Ted Bunta
*Ann Moon (Winchey)
*Alternate: Kay Kemble
1966-67*Lowell Katz
1967-68Lowell Katz
1968-69Lowell Katz
1969-70Lowell Katz
* Not Documented

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