The history of Black Diamond

Written By Sarah Gibson, Co-Opinions Editor

While Point Park is home to the Pioneers, that’s not what the symbol on Point Park’s logo happens to be, which has caused some confusion regarding the real mascot of Point Park. 

While the athletes may be referred to as the Pioneers, Point Park’s mascot is a bison. There is a difference between a team name and what the mascot is, and sometimes people confuse the two. Mascots are defined as being the characters or symbols representative of a certain team or group. In this case, “Pioneers” is just the name of the team, or nickname.

Point Park chose a mascot in 1967, the first year that it allowed its sports teams to compete intercollegiately with other four year institutions.

The bison became Point Park’s mascot when the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity teamed up with the Varsity Club to buy a live bison which they named “Black Diamond II.” He lived in South Park, Pa. on a bison reserve that still stands today. The school brought him to parades and certain sporting events where he was wildly popular. 

Even after his eventual death, the university bought a monument to the mascot that is on display in the Academic Hall Lobby.  

Wait, Black Diamond II? Whatever happened to Black Diamond I?

Well, Black Diamond I was a North American bison from another generation entirely. Born in 1893, he lived in the Central Park Menagerie, which today is the Central Park Zoo, for 22 years. 

Black Diamond I was used as the model for the US Buffalo Nickel coin introduced in 1913. He was still on the back of the nickel in 1967, so the student body saw it fit to name the new mascot “Black Diamond II.”

While Black Diamond II is no longer a live bison, he is just as involved in the spirit of Point Park. In fact, in 2018, Black Diamond II was voted as the most popular mascot in the River States Conference. 

That’s all the history I’m able to access without going into the University archives, and while I’d love to do that, it’s not much of an option right now. So, instead, I’d like to use my position as the Official Senior Mascot Correspondent of the Pioneer Sideline (on U-View) to talk about what the school can do to improve on our mascot.

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that the school could use some school spirit right now. Do not get me wrong, I’m a fan of the Black Diamond who comes to sports games and greets students during special occasions on campus, but I don’t think it would be a bad idea to get back to our roots. 

What I am suggesting, of course, is buying another bison. 

I’m not suggesting we get rid of the friendly, furry, bipedal Black Diamond. I think he does a wonderful job for the tasks he’s given, but can you tell me that it wouldn’t warm your little heart to go on a field trip once a month to the South Park Bison Reserve to see a bison that your school sponsors? 

It could be a very fun university bonding exercise. We could bring picnic supplies and have a nice picnic. In the winter, we can go caroling at the bison reserve and wish our bison a happy holiday.

Now, when our school bought a bison in 1967, they brought him to sports games and parades. That’s a tradition I suggest that we break. I think that we should sponsor the bison, but he should not leave the reserve. 

I think the bison we sponsor (which would not cost a lot in the grand scheme of everything) would be a lovely symbol, and it would also give our students a chance to connect with their namesake. 

I think the bison is a great idea for a mascot, but I think it would be even better to give university students the chance to see what that really means, to give them the chance to see the strength and stoic beauty that is the bison.