On January 31, 1872 author Zane Grey, author of Riders of the Purple Sage, is born in Zanesville, Ohio. He was the son of a successful dentist, who enjoyed a happy and solid upper-middle-class childhood, marred only by occasional fistfights with boys who teased him about his unusual first name, Pearl. (Grey later replaced it with his mother's maiden name, Zane.) A talented baseball player as teen, Grey caught the eye of a scout for the University of Pennsylvania college team, who convinced him to study there. In 1886, he graduated with a degree in dentistry and moved to New York to begin his practice.