This episode we fire up the DeLorean and head back to explore the life and career of Harold "Red" Grange. The Galloping Ghost. He was the most hyped player of his generation, and he sure did live up to the billing George Halas gave him when he took him on a "barnstorming" tour in 1925. So strap on your seatbelt, and let’s get ready to take this baby up to 88mph.
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As we step off our DeLorean in this episode, the date is June 13, 1903. We are in Forksville, Pennsylvania. This is the date and birthplace of our hero, Harold Edward Grange, whom would later become the Galloping Ghost. His mother would pass away when he was 5, so his father moved the family to Wheaton, Illinois. Most people call him Red Grange, and he would proceed to make his mark on the football world at Wheaton High School. After an incredible High School career, Red Grange would be recruited to play football for the University of Illinois.
He entered Illinois in 1922, and he played football in the 1923 through 1925 seasons. Red Grange would be given the honor of All-American each of his three seasons. In his first game, Grange scored 3 touchdowns against Nebraska. His claim to stardom came in the 1924 season against an undefeated Michigan team. He would have a spectacular individual performance that would catapult him into iconic status. More details are given throughout the episode.
Red Grange would ultimately use his college greatness to be signed by the Chicago Bears for George Halas. His debut game would be 10 days after his last college game, which would be on Thanksgiving Day. The game would draw 36,000 fans, the most for a professional game at the time. This game had wild success, so Halas and Grange’s agent (C.C. Pyle) set up a “barnstorming tour” across the United States. One stop was in New York to take on the Giants at New York’s Polo Grounds in front of 70,000 raving fans. Grange would end up playing 8 games in 12 days in the Midwest and East, and then his tour out West would include 9 more games. The highlight out West would include a defeat of the Los Angeles Tigers in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in front of 75,000 rowdy fans.
The Galloping Ghost was a legend after this “barnstorming tour,” and his agent C.C. (Cash and Carry) Pyle had plenty of lofty ideas for him. Together they would start the first rendition of the American Football League, put Grange in movies, have all sorts of advertisements lined up, and to put the cherry on top there was even a Grange candy bar manufactured.
The names Red Grange and The Galloping Ghost were larger than life. He would contribute so much to the game of professional football, many would point to him as one of the most significant reasons the professional game was able to survive. After his football career, Grange would end up becoming an announcer for college and professional games. He would also be inducted to the inaugural classes of the College and Pro Football Hall of Fames.
In this episode you will hear in more detail about the incredible life of Harold Grange, also known as Red Grange, but more famously described as The Galloping Ghost. I believe after this episode, you will never look at the number 77 again.