Axe Theft of 1899
Date: April 15, 1899
Location: Sixteenth and Harrison Street Ball Grounds, San Francisco
Duration: 31 years
The Stanford Axe did not have a humble beginning. Quite to the contrary!
The first theft of the Axe occurred just days after being introduced by Stanford yell leaders as the physical manifestation of the Cal-Stanford rivalry. The Axe was used as a visual aid to lead cheers in the annual baseball game against Berkeley. After the game, Cal students attacked the Stanford custodians.
A great chase around the city of San Francisco followed as Stanford students fought to regain their blade. At one point, they succeeded, but only to lose it again. During the chase, the original Axe handle was sawed off in a local butcher shop, thereby making the Axe easier to conceal. This ploy worked as Cal students were able to smuggle the Axe back to Berkeley aboard the Ferry.
Thus began the greatest tradition in college rivalries — the legacy of The Stanford Axe.
Here are some more details and accounts of the 1899 theft:
- Origin and Loss of the Axe, The Stanford Axe
- Early California Traditions and The Axe Capture, The Stanford Axe
- The Story of the Axe, Stanford Illustrated Review, November 1927
- The Story of the Axe, Stanford Illustrated Review, November 1929
- The Saga of the Axe, California Monthly, November 1951
Map of the 1899 Axe Chase, California Monthly, Nov. 1951