NEVER A BORING DAY IN SDSU HISTORY
Contribute your favorite moments to a 2022 calendar project.
By Seth Mallios
January 22, 2021
When you’re an archaeologist who loves to dig and your summer excavation is canceled
because of COVID-19, you spend a lot of time staring at the calendar and thinking
about next year. When you’re a historian who delights in searching collections of
old documents and the archives are closed because of COVID-19, you spend a lot of
time staring at the calendar and thinking about next year. When you’re a curator who’s
poised to unveil the most important artifacts of a 20-year research project and your
exhibition is postponed until the spring because of COVID 19… well, you get the point.
All of this staring at calendars had a silver lining. I pondered whether something significant happened every calendar day in San Diego State University history. Fueled by this query and challenge, I set out constructing the Today in San Diego State History: 2022 Daily Calendar, pulling memorable moments from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 over the last 124 years.
I aimed for a mix of entries showcasing student life, academics, athletics, alumni and campus events. Some were obvious; they were the undeniable milestones of the institution.
March 13, 1897 — when California Governor James Budd signed the bill authorizing the creation of the State Normal School of San Diego — was the starting point for San Diego State and this project. There were momentous campus visits by global dignitaries: President John F. Kennedy’s commencement address at Aztec Bowl (June 6, 1963) and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s protest speech in the Open Air Theatre (May 29, 1964). Likewise, the beginning of the nation’s first Women’s Studies Program at SDSU (Feb. 2, 1970) was absolutely integral.
Sports fans will appreciate Marshall Faulk’s 386-yard rushing game (Sept. 14, 1991), Stephen Strasburg’s no-hitter in his final home appearance (May 8, 2009), volleyball star Laurel Brassey’s debut as the first woman to play a men’s Division I college sport (Feb. 8, 1974), and many others.
Meanwhile music lovers can debate how to rank campus concerts including Ella Fitzgerald at Peterson Gym (Oct. 1, 1961), the Canned Heat/Grateful Dead/Santana/Lee Michaels proto-Woodstock mega-show at Aztec Bowl (May 11, 1969), Bob Marley at the OAT (July 24, 1978), Adele at Viejas Arena (Aug. 18, 2011) or any one of Jimmy Buffett’s 28 concert appearances from Sept. 3, 1975 (The Backdoor) to March 10, 2012 (Viejas).
It is worth emphasizing that even though the calendar includes the day that Ted Giannoulas (’76) first donned a chicken suit for a Padres game — the April 9, 1974 KGB radio gig that would evolve into a career as the world famous San Diego Chicken — it’s only 90% complete. It is missing a most critical element: you! Send a detailed description of the most important dates in your SDSU history my way at [email protected] before March 1, 2021. If I use your unique submission, I’ll send you a free calendar.
Professor of Anthropology Seth Mallios is the university history curator and director of the South Coastal Information Center at SDSU. He is the author of 10 books, including Born a Slave, Died a Pioneer: Nathan Harrison and the Historical Archaeology of Legend. Banner photograph: University Archives.