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Was Grantland Rice a Bigot?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Boom_70, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    I think it's only 74 percent, but your general point stands.
  2. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    This. You would be amazed at what was still running in some papers in the mid-'60s. I remembering seeing it while checking microfilm in college. Probably would make an interesting thesis for a sociology major.
  3. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    While acknowledging everything everyone has said about Rice, his column on Babe Ruth's death in The Best American Sports Writing of the Century stands the test of time.

    Then again, it was tough to be too over-the-top when describing Ruth:

    "The greatest figure the world of sport has ever known has passed from the field. Game called on account of darkness. Babe Ruth is dead."

    I love that opening paragraph, which certainly hails Ruth's greatness. But he told Ruth's ups and downs with honesty, even if he did love the big guy:

    "The true story of Babe's life will never be written -- the story of wrecked cars he left along the highway -- the story of the night he came near dropping Miller Huggins off a train -- the story of the $100,000 or more he lost in Cuba one racing winter. (The Babe told me it was $200,000.

    "The story of the ribald, carefree Babe who ignored all traffic signals. I was riding home with Ruth one night after a game of golf. The Babe was late. He ignored red lights and everything else in a big car. I begged Babe to let me get out and take a taxi. The Babe only laughed."

    Maybe the obituary was the perfect setting for Rice. But I have a very difficult time believing any writer did better to eulogize Babe Ruth, the greatest baseball player ever and the dominant sports figure of the first half of the 20th century.

    In the 1920s and 1930s, Rice was more carried away, more over the top. As he aged, he settled down a bit. He took some cues from the younger Red Smith, a guy who I believe could, with little coaching, write a fine sports column today.

    The reason I bring this all up is because I don't think we should be confusing "writing garbage" with "garbage writing." There are things Grantland Rice wrote that don't stand the test of time at all. They would, as many have argued in this thread, be deemed racist. He definitely could be a blowhard with his over-the-top poetry.

    So Grantland Rice was guilty of writing garbage, at least by today's standards. But he was never a garbage writer. He was very, very talented.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I think there is a difference between making comparison to blacks and animals in a theoretically positive way in the 1930s and being a klan member.

    Rice was certainly racist by our standards, but not every racist is evil. Most are just ignorant or brought up to think that way.

    Doesn't mean they are out burning crosses.
  5. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Wasn't just journalism. The original lyrics of Puttin' On The Ritz were racist as hell, and Cab Calloway's version of "Harlem Holiday", a giant goof on black culture of the time, was hardly flattering.
  6. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Hiddy Ho !
  7. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    I knew Minnie Mizzola. She was a hooker in Cleveland.
  8. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    You really can't compare the writing of the 1920s and 30s to today. You had sportswriters putting in poems. In those days of no TV, little radio, that was considered a big thing.

    Today, if Rice wrote his Four Horsemen lede, someone would be sending it back to him, complaining, "You don't have the score in the first five grafs!"
  9. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    I always liked the Rice line : "The Yankees are October"
  10. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    You know, if it was Heidi Ho, it wouldn't be racist at all.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
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