Grantland Rice

Henry Grantland Rice was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1901 and began work for the Nashville Daily News. Between 1907 and 1911 he worked for a number of mostly southern papers, including the Atlanta Journal and the Nashville Tennessean and also moonlighted as a umpire and referee for baseball and football games in the region. In 1911 he was hired by the New York Evening Mail, and in 1914 by the New York Tribune (later the Herald-Tribune).

Rice was considered one of the most influential sportswriters of his day, as his encyclopedic knowledge of his subject (helped, no doubt, by his time spent as a referee) and his elevated writing style helped cast the athletes he wrote about as heroic figures. In one of his most famous columns in 1924, he took a fairly mundane game between Notre Dame and Army and elevated it to the level of classical mythology when he referred to the Notre Dame backfield as "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." He often accompanied his columns with poetry, one poem, "Alumnus Football," containing the famous lines: "For when the One Great Scorer comes / To write against your name, / He marks - not that you won or lost / But how you played the Game."

He became nationally known after his column, "The Sportlight," was syndicated in 1930. Between 1925 and 1947, he followed pioneering coach and sportswriter Walter Camp in selecting All-American football teams for Colliers Magazine. At a time when the amateur gentleman athlete was still the ideal, he defended the right of tennis players like Bill Tilden to make a living as professionals, though he might have been somethat ahead of his time in warning about the potential dangers of big money's influence: "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."

By the time of his death in New York from a heart attack, it was estimated he had written more than 22,000 columns and over 67 million words. His autobiography, "The Tumult and the Shouting," appeared posthumously, and in 1966 he was awarded the J.G. Spink Award by the Baseball Writers of America and a plaque was placed in his honor at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

Source: Biography written by Paul F. Wilson:


Two Sides of War (All Wars)

All wars are planned by older men
In council rooms apart,
Who call for greater armament
And map the battle chart.

But out along the shattered field
Where golden dreams turn gray,
How very young the faces were
Where all the dead men lay.

Portly and solemn in their pride,
The elders cast their vote
For this or that, or something else,
That sounds the martial note.

But where their sightless eyes stare out
Beyond life's vanished toys,
I've noticed nearly all the dead
Were hardly more than boys.