Y’all ever heard the story of The Rabbit?
The Marlin Marvel? The Mighty Midget? The Texas Terror?
The man who bumfozzled the Auburnites? The youngster who could run barefooted on greased grass and not be at all handicapped? The runningest gent who ever floated across the cross marks?
Yeah, that’s The Rabbit — Irby Rice Curry by birth, 1st Lt. Irby Rice Curry in death.
A hundred years ago, there would have been no need for an explanation. Folks from Texas to Virginia and beyond knew all about Rabbit Curry, the peppery little gridiron star who died a hero in the skies over France.
They revered The Rabbit back then, only a few years removed from his glory days at Vanderbilt, and his name would take on the sheen of legend. That lore was built and maintained by the men best positioned to do that kind of thing in those days: the sportswriters.
Scribes like Zipp Newman of the Birmingham News, James Stahlman and later Ralph McGill and Fred Russell at the old Nashville Banner, and above all the incomparable Blinkey Horn of The Tennessean, made Rabbit Curry a household name as a player and ensured future generations knew his story for decades to come.
You have to remember that throughout the 24 years and six days of Irby Rice Curry’s short life, from August 4, 1894 through August 10, 1918, it was the writers who created characters, who shaped public personas. With no other medium to compete against, they conjured the most florid descriptions their typewriters would allow, day after day and year after year. And boy did they spill some ink over Rabbit Curry.
So why don’t we step aside and let them tell you the story …