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Monday, May 22, 2017

Early Bird Story....Riggle to transfer...--MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


The modern-day Louie the Cardinal Bird has undergone quite a few changes since the early version of him in the 1960's. I ran into Lloyd Collins recently...who was the third Cardinal Bird in Cardinal history. This is how it was...back then. 

Lloyd didn't grow up wanting to be the Louisville mascot. The son of a farming family in upstate New York, he came to the University of Louisville to play the trumpet in the University of Louisville band. His band director in high school was getting his Master's degree at Louisville and told the UofL director Leon Raper that he knew of a pretty good trumpet player. Lloyd auditioned, was accepted and received a small scholarship to come to Louisville in 1961. 

The Cardinal Bird originated out of the UofL Marching Band. The first two wearers of the outfit (Dick Dyson and Sam Badgett) were students in the Speed School of Engineering. When Sam was ready to graduate, Lloyd asked Leon if he could take over the "bird role". Leon said yes, but on the contingent that Lloyd would still continue to play in the marching band at half-time home games. 

Lloyd would perform as the Cardinal into the locker room to change into his band uniform shortly before halftime, play with the band and then change back into his costume and resume being the bird in the second half. 

As the Cardinal Bird, Lloyd would go to perform at basketball games as well. The marching band didn't go to away games...but Lloyd would load up his 1956 Dodge with cheerleaders, scrape up enough money for gasoline and do road games with them. He also made appearances at Freedom Hall. His routine on the court often entailed him performing with a Hula Hoop. A crowd favorite was when the Cardinal Bird would lay a Cardinal Bird egg. 

Times were tough for a struggling college student and finances. Lloyd worked as a dishwasher in the school cafeteria in exchange for meals. For lodging exchange, he was the dorm counselor and resident manager at the old Stevenson Hall. For extra money he gave trumpet lessons at a downtown music center. He even worked out a deal with Spalding's Dry Cleaners to get his uniform cleaned at no cost. 

The costume consisted of white pants, white "spats" and black shoes. He wore a black, long-tailed colonel's coat pulled over a big pillow. The head piece was made out of paper-mache. It was attached to a pith helmet. Lloyd could only see out of one eye on the costume. It was a very hot costume. Lloyd estimates he lost anywhere from 5-10 pounds per game. The helmet and head piece were very top heavy and Lloyd had to be careful that it didn't fall off while performing. 

In 1963, a female student on campus decided she wanted to be a lady Cardinal Bird mascot. Lloyd recalls they had great fun with that...including a "marriage" at half-court in Freedom Hall during a game. Rival of Memphis, Western and Cincy would get aggressive and actually try to steal the helmet off his head at away games. More than once, Lloyd and the cheerleaders would get into scrapes and shoving matches with fans trying to take his head. 

In preparing for the role, Lloyd recalls: 

"There was no special preparation. No dance routines, no gymnastics. I just went out and tried to have a good time, lead cheers. I would arrive really early to games to get into the costume...I would change in the same locker room and the coaches and players. After the game, they'd say...'Here comes the bird.' I'd shower after the game and walk out in street clothes...the costume put away. We wanted to keep the bird's identity a big secret. Fans would ask who I was. I'd just drop my bird arms and I didn't know. It was such a great experience, one I would never trade. I never get tired of telling the story." 

On today's Louie: 

"He's so big and puffed up with those muscular features. Like he's on steroids or something. Like an action hero. Maybe that's want the kids want." 

After graduation, Lloyd worked as a high school band director for several years in Bowling Green. He met his wife there and went into the banking business in Louisville and Florida. Now retired, he works part-time in Guest Services at Churchill Downs during the racing season and also does data entry at the University of Louisville Medical School Continuing Education once a week. 

A special "thank you!" to Lloyd for the photos and back-story. Also, to Orthopaedic Specialist for additional information. 



Louisville Softball is losing a player...not to graduation...but via the transfer route. Michala Riggle is leaving the Cards to pursue her dream of becoming a youth minister and heading to Liberty University to get her degree in that field. 

The sophomore first baseman/catcher played sparingly for the Cards in her two years on campus...primarily as a pinch-runner. As a freshman, she played in 13 games and scored three runs. This season, she saw action in 15 games and scored six runs. 

Riggle has been heavily involved in the Louisville community as a fundraiser for autism. She has raised over $500,000 to combat the syndrome. Her brother Evan has autism. Michala began at an early age beading bracelets and selling them at craft fairs and festivals to donate to autism. She had the dream from an early age to play for the softball Cards. 

Now, she has the chance to pursue her next dream. 

Life update!!! These past two years as a Cardinal have been a dream come true, full of life…

So often, with transfers...we wonder the reasoning and motive behind them. This one makes perfect sense, though. "Riggs" was a popular and fully invested Cardinal for two years. Now, she'll make a move toward a life goal and continue the outreach and involvement that has been a staple in her life.

We congratulate and admire her for going after her dream here at Cardinal Couple and wish her the best of luck in her studies and pursuits as a Flame! Make a difference, Michala !!



  1. Check out those skirts!! Great article, Paulie. That had to be a fun interview.

    -- The Real Joe Hill --

  2. Great look at the past, Paulie! The Deb Factor


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