Why Grantland Rice was Grantland Rice

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, most of us who then lived in the boondocks ~ and far away from big league baseball ~ had little other choice but to read about the action in whatever newspapers were available to us. There was no television in those days, of course, and very little radio coverage. You either went to the ballpark ~ or you read about the games in whatever newspaper that was available to you ~ or you took in minor league or barnstorming baseball games ~ or you just gave up the game in favor of dancing or whittling.

It was under these daunting, but extant 1920-30 conditions that a fellow named Grantland Rice wrote to the rescue of a nation that starved for the news of baseball, football, and boxing for timely reports that American fans at large could not otherwise hope to receive out there in the hinterlands.

And, man, did Rice ever do his job! He wrote game stories that coupled words and visual portrayals like powerful box trains of thought ~ ones that chugged through our sporting news-starved stationary minds like magical lines of play that settled as clearly in our corn field farm homes as they did in town in the Saturday afternoon barber shop chair.

Here are a few examples from the syndicated story that Grantland Rice did for publication on October 2, 1932 on the action from Game Three of the World Series in Chicago the previous day. Game Three on October 1st was the one in which Babe Ruth supposedly “called his shot” in a Yankees victory over the Cubs that now sent New York into a 3-0 position on games won ~ and set them up as enormous favorites to finish the job in Game Four. ~ Which they did.

You won’t read Rice concluding that Babe Ruth called his shot, but you should be able to get the impression from his quoted game account that such a claim may have been easily perceived from what Grantland Rice and others did write ~ and what other people saw ~ and wanted to see in Ruth’s second home run of the game:

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….Ruth Jeers Cub Players

By Grantland Rice

Chicago, Oct. 1 – “That far-echoing rumbling roar you must have heard Saturday afternoon was the old rock-crusher-rolling over the flattened, crushed bodies of the Cubs. In the driver’s seat were those two mighty men of baseball, Ruth and Gehrig. Babe and Lou, the dynamite twins.

“In the presence of 50,000 startled Cub rooters and (NY) Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt, this dynamic pair of slugging mastodons lit the fuse to four home runs with a fusillade that drove Charley Root from the field with his ears still ringing in the wake of a bombardment he will never forget.

“The Yankees won the scrappy slugfest, 7 to 5, to make it three in a row. and thereby step within one battle of making it a murdering four straight march.”

~ Syracuse Herald, October 2, 1932, page 1

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(Legends Feed Easy on The Realities That Precede Them)

“With one down in the fifth, and the score tied 4-4, Ruth came to bat for the third time. Ruth and Cubs players in the dugout had been carrying on a lively repartee all afternoon and it now reached its height with the Babe waving his hands and yelling to the players between each pitch.

“With the count 2-2, Ruth motioned to the Cubs dugout, that he was going to hit the next one to his liking out of the park and, when he saw a low curve floating up the alley, he swung with all his powerful body. The ball sailed more than 450 feet into the farthest corner of the center field bleachers for his (Ruth’s) second home run of the series and his 15th in World Series play.”

~ Syracuse Herald, October 2, 1932, page 11

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“Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore their names are Death, Destruction, Pestilence, and Famine. But those are aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below.”

~ The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame by Grantland Rice

If Grantland Rice were ever home, his kids must’ve heard some great bedtime stories.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

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