Magenta was used on the uniforms of Fordham’s “Baseball Nines,” the first athletic club at Fordham, organized in 1859. But magenta was also used by Fordham’s archrival in athletics, Harvard University. In 1874, the matter came to a head. Both institutions claimed prior use of the color, and neither was willing to concede.
Since it was considered improper for two schools to be wearing the same color, the matter was to be settled by a series of baseball games. The winning team could lay claim to magenta; the losing team would have to find a new color.
Fordham won the competition, but Harvard reneged on its promise to surrender magenta as its school color.
Later that year, as the student body gathered to meet the newly installed 10th president, Rev. William Gockeln, SJ, one of the matters discussed was that of choosing an official college color that would belong to Fordham and Fordham alone. Stephen Wall, class of 1875, suggested maroon, a color not widely used at the time.
He explained in a letter to the editors of the College paper that the color looked “something like claret wine with the sun shining through it.” The committee charged with determining the official college color unanimously agreed, and maroon has been the official color ever since.
An ironic footnote: Harvard also stopped using magenta in favor of crimson.