Grantland Rice (November 1, 1880 - July 13, 1954) was an early
20th-century American sportswriter known for his elegant prose. His
writing was published in newspapers around the country and broadcast
on the radio.
1 Early years
6 Further reading
7 External links
Grantland Rice was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the son of Bolling
Hendon Rice, a cotton dealer, and his wife, Mary Beulah (Grantland)
Rice. His grandfather Major H. W. Rice was a Confederate veteran of
the Civil War.
A young Rice at Vanderbilt
Montgomery Bell Academy
Montgomery Bell Academy and
Vanderbilt University in
Nashville, where he was a member of the football team for three years,
a shortstop on the baseball team, a brother in the Phi Delta Theta
fraternity, and graduated with a BA degree in 1901 in classics. On
the football team, he lettered in the year of 1899 as an end and
averaged two injuries a year. On the baseball team, he was captain in
In 1907 Rice saw what he would call the greatest thrill he ever
witnessed in his years of watching sports during the
Sewanee–Vanderbilt football game: the catch by Vanderbilt center
Stein Stone, on a double-pass play then thrown near the end zone by
Bob Blake to set up the touchdown run by
Honus Craig that beat Sewanee
at the very end for the SIAA championship. Vanderbilt coach Dan
McGugin in Spalding's Football Guide's summation of the season in the
SIAA wrote, "The standing. First, Vanderbilt; second, Sewanee, a
mighty good second;" and that
Aubrey Lanier "came near winning the
Vanderbilt game by his brilliant dashes after receiving punts."
Rice coached the 1908 Vanderbilt baseball team.
Rice was an advocate for the game of golf. He became interested in
golf in 1909 while covering the Southern Amateur at the Nashville Golf
Club. It was not his first golf event, but it was the one that seemed
to pull him toward the game.
After taking early jobs with the Atlanta Journal and the Cleveland
News, he later became a sportswriter for the Nashville Tennessean. The
job at the Tennessean was given to him by former
Sewanee Tigers coach
Billy Suter, who coached baseball teams against which Rice played
while at Vanderbilt. Afterwards he obtained a series of prestigious
jobs with major newspapers in the northeastern United States. In 1914
he began his Sportlight column in the New York Tribune. He also
Grantland Rice Sportlights as part of Paramount
newsreels from 1925–1954. He is best known for being the
Walter Camp in the selection of College Football
All-America Teams beginning in 1925, and for being the writer who
dubbed the great backfield of the 1924 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
football team the "Four Horsemen" of Notre Dame. A Biblical reference
to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, this famous account was
published in the New York Herald Tribune on October 18, describing the
Notre Dame vs. Army game played at the Polo Grounds:
Outlined against a blue-gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again.
In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and
death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher,
Miller, Crowley 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
The passage added great import to the event described and elevated it
to a level far beyond that of a mere football game. This passage,
although famous, is far from atypical, as Rice's writing tended to be
of an "inspirational" or "heroic" style, raising games to the level of
ancient combat and their heroes to the status of demigods. He became
even better known after his columns were nationally syndicated
beginning in 1930, and became known as the "Dean of American Sports
Writers". He and his writing are among the reasons that the 1920s in
the United States are sometimes referred to as the "Golden Age of
Sports". Rice's all-time All-America backfield was Jim Thorpe, Red
Grange, Ken Strong, and Ernie Nevers.
The grave of
His sense of honor can be seen in his own actions. Before leaving for
service in World War I, he entrusted his entire fortune, about
$75,000, to a friend. On his return from the war, Rice discovered that
his friend had lost all the money in bad investments, and then had
committed suicide. Rice accepted the blame for putting “that much
temptation” in his friend's way. Rice then made monthly
contributions to the man’s widow throughout his life.
According to author Mark Inabinett in his 1994 work,
and His Heroes: The Sportswriter as Mythmaker in the 1920s, Rice very
consciously set out to make heroes of sports figures who impressed
him, most notably Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, Bobby Jones, Bill Tilden,
Red Grange, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, and Knute Rockne. Unlike many
writers of his era, Rice defended the right of football players such
as Grange, and tennis players such as Tilden, to make a living as
professionals, but he also decried the warping influence of big money
in sports, once writing in his column:
"Money to the left of them and money to the right
Money everywhere they turn from morning to the night
Only two things count at all from mountain to the sea
Part of it's percentage, and the rest is guarantee"
Rice authored a book of poetry, Songs of the Stalwart, which was
published in 1917 by D. Appleton and Company of New York.
Rice married Fannie Katherine Hollis on April 11, 1906; they had one
child, the actress Florence Rice. Rice died at the age 73 on July 13,
1954, following a stroke. He is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in
The Bronx, New York City.
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"For when the One Great Scorer comes
To mark against your name,
He writes – not that you won or lost –
But how you played the Game."
(from the poem "Alumnus Football")
"The loafer has no come-back and the quitter no reply,
Anvil Chorus echoes, as it will, against the sky;
But there’s one quick answer ready that will wrap them in a hood:
(from the poem "The Answer")
Fred Russell (left) and
Grantland Rice in 1951
In 1951, in recognition of Rice's 50 years in journalism, an anonymous
donor contributed $50,000 to establish the
Grantland Rice Fellowship
in Journalism with the New York Community Trust. In 1954, the
Football Writers Association established the
Grantland Rice Memorial
Award, given annually to an outstanding college player selected by the
Grantland Rice Bowl, an annual college football bowl
game held from 1964 to 1977, was named in his honor, as was the
Grantland Rice Award given to the winner. Rice was posthumously
awarded the 1966
J. G. Taylor Spink Award by the Baseball Writers
Association of America. The award, presented the following year at the
annual induction ceremony at the Baseball Hall of Fame, is given for
"meritorious contributions to baseball writing".
At Vanderbilt, a four-year scholarship named for Rice and former
colleague and fellow Vanderbilt alumnus
Fred Russell is awarded each
year to an incoming first-year student who intends to pursue a career
in sportswriting. Recipients of the Fred Russell–
Sportswriting Scholarship include author and humorist Roy Blount, Jr.;
Skip Bayless of ESPN; Dave Sheinin of The Washington Post; and Tyler
Kepner of The New York Times. The press box in Vanderbilt Stadium
Vanderbilt University is dedicated to Rice and named after Rice's
protégé, Fred Russell. For many years, a portion of one floor of the
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism was designated the
Grantland Rice Suite".
Grantland Avenue in his hometown of
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was named in his honor.
Rice was mentioned in an
I Love Lucy
I Love Lucy episode entitled "The Camping
Trip", and was portrayed by actor Lane Smith, also a native of
Tennessee, in The Legend of Bagger Vance. On June 8, 2011, ESPN's Bill
Simmons launched a sports and popular culture website titled
Grantland, a name intended to honor Rice's legacy. It operated for
a little more than four years until being shuttered by
ESPN on October
30, 2015, several months after Simmons's departure.
^ "Obituary Notes", The New York Times. October 9, 1917. Accessed on
June 29, 2009.
^ a b c "
Grantland Rice Dies at the Age of 73", The New York Times,
July 14, 1954. Accessed on December 27, 2012.
^ "Major H.W.
Grantland dies", The New York Times, February 18, 1926.
Accessed on June 29, 2009.
^ a b Sideliner (March 1920). "Athlete, Soldier and Writer".
Outing:Sport, Adventure, Travel, Fiction. 75 (6). Retrieved April 23,
2015 – via Google books.
^ John A. Simpson. The Greatest Game Ever Played In Dixie.
Grantland Rice Tells Of Greatest Thrill In Years Of Watching
Sport". Boston Daily Globe. April 27, 1924.
Dan McGugin (1907). "Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association
Foot Ball". The Official National Collegiate Athletic Association
Football Guide. National Collegiate Athletic Association:
^ Hardin, Robin (2004). "Crowning the King:
Grantland Rice and Bobby
Jones". Georgia Historical Quarterly. 88 (4): 511–529. Retrieved 15
^ Porter, David L. (1988) Biographical Dictionary of American Sports:
Outdoor Sports, Greenwood Press ISBN 9780313262609 pp 88–90
Grantland (January 27, 1955). "War Interrupted Writing
Career". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. Retrieved
February 4, 2017 – via newspapers.com.
^ Harper, William (February 25, 1999). How You Played the Game: The
Grantland Rice. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri
Press. p. 245. ISBN 978-0826212047.
^ "$50,000 Fund Created", The New York Times, May 3, 1951. Accessed on
June 29, 2009.
Grantland Rice Award Established in Football", The New York Times,
August 14, 1954. Accessed on June 29, 2009.
J. G. Taylor Spink Award Honorees", Baseball Hall of Fame. Accessed
on June 30, 2009.
^ "The Fred Russell–
Sportswriting Scholarship" (PDF),
Vanderbilt University. Accessed on June 29, 2009.
ESPN MediaZone (2011). All-Star Roster of Writers and Editors to
ESPN Web Site Archived 2011-04-30 at the Wayback Machine..
Retrieved May 3, 2011.
Fountain, Charles (November 11, 1993). Sportswriter: The Life and
Grantland Rice. Oxford University Press.
Harper, William (February 25, 1999). How You Played the Game: The Life
Grantland Rice. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press.
Inabinett, Mark (December 21, 1994).
Grantland Rice and His Heroes:
The Sportswriter as Mythmaker in the 1920s. Knoxville, Tennessee:
University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 978-0870498497.
Grantland (1954). The Tumult and the Shouting. Phillies Sports
Library. ASIN B0007H313Y.
Grantland (December 30, 2004). Base-Ball Ballads:
(McFarland Historical Baseball Library). C H Wellington (Illustrator).
McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0786420384.
Grantland (August 30, 2012). Songs of the Stalwart (Classic
Reprint). Forgotten Books. ASIN B0099GNMZG.
Grantland (June 14, 2014). Casey's Revenge. Jim Hull
(Illustrator). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Works by or about
Grantland Rice at Internet Archive
Grantland Rice at
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
Grantland Rice at Find a Grave
J. G. Taylor Spink Award – 1966 winner
Alumnus Football by
The Answer by
Vanderbilt Commodores head baseball coaches
T. W. Davis (1904)
Grantland Rice (1908)
Ed Hamilton (1909–1910)
Anderson Weakley (1911)
Herbert Charles Sanborn (1912–1913)
Dick Lyle (1914)
Bill Schwartz (1917)
Ralph Palmer (1918)
Ray Morrison (1919)
Byrd Douglas (1920–1921)
Wallace Wade (1922–1923)
Bill Schwartz (1924–1932)
Bill Schwartz (1934–1940)
James A. Scoggins (1942)
No team (1944–1946)
James A. Scoggins (1947)
Tommy Harrison (1948)
Dave Scobey (1949–1951)
Bill Schwartz (1952)
Woody T. Johnson (1953)
Dave Scobey (1954–1956)
Dick Richardson (1957–1959)
Harley Boss (1960)
Dick Richardson (1961)
Jerry Elliot (1962)
Harley Boss (1963–1964)
George Archie (1965–1967)
Larry Schmittou (1968–1978)
Roy Mewbourne (1979–2002)
Tim Corbin (2003– )
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award winners
1940: Herring Jr.
1942–1945 No award given
1948: Dobie, Warner & Zuppke
1950 No award given
1956 No award given
1976 No award given
1980 No award given
Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 1967
Red Ruffing (86.9%)
J. G. Taylor Spink Award
J. G. Taylor Spink Award recipients