Unlikely as it may seem, the cause of the 1947 brouhaha that resulted in the arrest of 11 students was the Hopkins kidnapping of Testudo, Maryland's 400-pound bronze terrapin.
The "Battle of the Terrapin," as it came to be known, got its start several days earlier when a group of zealous Maryland fans reportedly came to Homewood and smeared paint on campus buildings and sidewalks. In retaliation, some Hopkins students headed down to College Park, where they swiped the Terps' huge mascot.
Their honor at stake, about 250 Maryland students launched a rescue raid around 2 a.m.on the morning before the big game. Luckily, the Hopkins kidnappers had been tipped off about the raid, so they had time to mount a mighty defense. First they buried the terrapin for safekeeping, and then they equipped the Alumni Memorial Residence for battle, stringing up barbed wire and a loudspeaker to coordinate the defense and laying in fire hoses and soap chips.
The city police had been tipped off as well, so when the cavalcade of Terps-filled cars came pulling up Charles Street and onto campus, more than 200 of Baltimore's finest were on hand. Things quickly got out of hand, however. The Maryland students ripped the slats off the benches around campus and advanced on the dorm, and the Hopkins defenders let loose with their firehoses, drenching both the cops and the attackers. The Maryland students who did make it inside the dorm found themselves slipping and sliding all over the soap-slicked floors.
The melee continued for close to two hours before the police gained control around 4 a.m., arresting three Hopkins students and eight Maryland students for disorderly conduct.
Around that time Hopkins dean G. Wilson Shaffer stepped in. He ordered the turtle exhumed and trucked back to College Park before the start of the 2:30 p.m. game. Hopkins's pranksters complied, but not before painting a huge blue "H" on the shell of the hapless terrapin.
That wasn't the only ignominy that Maryland fans had to swallow: the Blue Jays went on that afternoon to vanquish the Terps, 15-6, and capture the 1947 national title. That began a four-year run of undefeated seasons (in collegiate play) and national championships.
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