Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
He was born in Forksville, Pennsylvania. When he was five, his mother died and his father moved the family to Wheaton, Illinois. In high school, he lettered in four sports (football, baseball, basketball, and track) during each of the four years he was there, and scored 75 touchdowns.
After graduation he went to University of Illinois, where he initially planned to play only basketball and track. He changed his mind, and in his first football game scored three touchdowns against Nebraska. In seven games as a sophomore he ran for 723 yards and scored twelve touchdowns, leading Illinois to an undefeated season as the national champion.
But it was his performance in an October 18, 1924 game against Michigan which began his legend. He opened the game with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Within the next twelve minutes he scored three more touchdowns in three runs totaling 167 yards. These four touchdowns were as many as Michigan had given up in the two previous seasons.
The game inspired Grantland Rice to give him the nickname "The Galloping Ghost" and write the following poetic description:
A streak of fire, a breath of flame
Eluding all who reach and clutch;
A gray ghost thrown into the game
That rival hands may never touch;
A rubber bounding, blasting soul
Whose destination is the goal — Red Grange of Illinois!
He signed with the NFL's Chicago Bears the day after his last college game; player/manager George Halas agreed to a contract for a 19-game barnstorming tour which earned Grange a salary and share of gate receipts that amounted to $100,000, during an era when typical league salaries were less than $100/game. That 67-day tour is credited with legitimizing professional football in the United States.
His autobiography, first published in 1953, is The Red Grange Story (1993 paperback edition: ISBN 0252063295). The book was written "as told to" by Ira Morton, a syndicated newspaper columnist from Chicago.
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