Monday, July 20, 2020

See You Tomorrow

Congratulation to Mike Knorr, who realized that the four runners-up for the hypothetical 1924 Heisman Trophy were the fabled "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" from Notre Dame.

This is where it comes from:
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 writer was Grantland Rice, who when it comes to combining sportswriting and literature was rivaled probably only later on by Princeton alum Frank Deford. If you've never read anything by Deford, you're really missing out. Pick any story you like. Then you can marvel at the writing.

Rice's story appeared in the New York Herald Tribune in October 1924, after Notre Dame upset Army 13-7 at the Polo Grounds. The Notre Dame coach was Knute Rockne, and if you've never seen that movie, well, then get on it.

The list of Heisman winners from before when there was a Heisman also included George Gipp, of the "win one for the Gipper" fame. Gipp was played in the movie by Ronald Reagan, who incorporated "the Gipper" into his Presidential campaigns several decades later.

Anyway, sportswriting has changed a great deal from when Grantland Rice was doing it 100 years ago. or when Earnest Lawrence Thayer was doing it 40 years before that, when he wrote "Casey At The Bat" as a newspaper column.

TigerBlog loved his time in the newspaper business. It was the 1980s and early 1990s, which was a great time for newspapers.

He's not sure he would have been able to get away with the "Four Horsemen" style of writing back then. Maybe though.

TB has often wondered what was going through Rice's head as he watched the Notre Dame-Army game. Did he already have that idea or did it just come to him as he sat in the press box that day?

Back at the Trenton Times, TB's beloved colleague Harvey Yavener would often have his storyline in mind before the game started. It was up to the game, then, to fit his story, not the other way around.

He'd get angry when it didn't.

As for TB, he wrote a lot of stories on deadlines, and he prided himself on being able to have a story done as a game ended, needing only to plug in quotes. There were many nights in Jadwin Gym, or at Rider or Trenton State College, where he'd write two different ledes for close games, one that had the final going one way and one having it going the other.

Deadlines. Never missed one.

The key to writing a good story, Yav would always tell him, was to make sure you wrote the "right" story. In other words, each game had a story to tell, and you had to not miss what it was that the game of that particular night was about.

This, of course, is highly ironic, given that Yav himself already has his story in mind, but hey, he 1) was usually right in the end and 2) is one of the greatest who ever did it.

In fact, Princeton's athletes of the last 15-18 or so years have missed out on being interviewed by Yav. His feature stories were epics, and he would come up with a storyline from one of those interviews that the subject didn't realize was there. He would have made a great psychologist with the way he could get people to open up about themselves.

As TB has said here before, Yav was also the one who taught him that the news was the news. Your reporting the news was not news.

In that sense, this daily blog has failed miserably when it comes to Yav's rule No. 1. On the other hand, the world has evolved considerably.

Today sportswriting is more about "takes" than anything else, whether they come in the form of a column or in just 280-character bits. Game recaps are more about graphics and highlights on social media.

Yav hates it.

For TB, he hasn't done much tweeting, other than links of the blog each day. He prefers to write, either feature stories or what he brings you each day.

He's proud of the fact that since 2009, he hasn't missed a single business day. Not one.

Now there's a real challenge, with no athletic events since March and none for the fall. TB deeply hopes that the games will be able to resume come the start of 2021.

He will continue to be here each day, though. It's a way to let you know that Princeton Athletics are still here, are still working hard, are still educating, are still teaching values, are still holding true to its values, are still important.

And it seems like you like having the content. Readership is double what it was last summer at this time.

It's the connection to Princeton that's important, for writer and reader.

And with that, TB has only one more thing to say today:

See you tomorrow.

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