How the Mudlarks Got Their Name!

Date: Friday, September 10, 1993
Source: By Mike Conklin, Chicago 

We can breathe easier. After 35 years, the popular Gil Thorp comic strip that appears on this page has a nickname for mythical Milford High School-the Mudlarks. "I like it," said cartoonist Jack Berrill, who said he plans to introduce the monicker in the near future. In the meantime, of course, there's the more serious business of whether Ian, the foreign exchange student, will make a contribution to the football team. Berrill took time from the Milford battlefields to attend a 35th anniversary party for the Thorp strip this week at Justin's in Chicago, where the winning Mudlarks' name was announced by contest organizer Mike Murphy of WSCR. Interestingly, Marilyn Knapp Litt, one of the few females in this august gathering, sent in the winning name. It was her only entry. She got the idea after attending a Mud Hens' minor league baseball game in Toledo on her way a few weeks ago to the annual Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario. "The name just sort of stuck," said Litt, a computer specialist for the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board in Chicago. "It seemed alliterative and distinctive. I didn't want something obvious, like Mustangs. Besides, I figured he could always shorten it to Larks. I would think short names are important for a cartoonist." The Thorp party drew several TV stations and other media, including one columnist from the Detroit Free Press. Murphy passed out numerous copies of the "Waxing Nostalgic" anniversary Thorp book for those who had the correct answers to trivia questions. Though she knew most of the answers, Litt didn't bother entering this competition. She's already got the Thorp book as well as a Thorp T-shirt. Heck, she's even got the answer to what Ian will do for Milford: Kick a winning field goal in the playdowns. "With Gil, you always have to go with the obvious," she said.


DATE: TUESDAY September 14, 1993

DEVOTEES OF "Gil Thorp" gathered in Chicago on the comic strip's 35th anniversary to meet creator Jack Berrill and learn the winner of the contest to provide Milford High teams with a nickname. The champ, as submitted by Marilyn Knapp Litt of Chicago and chosen by Mrs. Berrill: the Mudlarks. The crowd at a bar near Wrigley Field booed, to which Litt observed, "They didn't win." As for why Milford went 35 years without a mascot, Berrill explained, "I was afraid people would get confused."

My winning entry was:

Milford Mudlarks
To play, delve, run, race, etc. in mud or on muddy ground.

As in the Mudlark's season ending football victory over Valley Tech in 1983! That was played in "mudlark weather." 

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