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Redskin's History 101:
Legends of Lore: Slingin’ Sammy Baugh!
Samuel Adrian Baugh was born on March 17th, 1914 in the backyard of the enemy, in Temple, Texas. The son of a railroad worker, young Sammy Baugh spent countless hours throwing his favorite projectile through a tire he’d suspended from a tree. When he grew tired of it, Sammy would set the tire swing in motion, and practice hitting the sweet spot as it made its wide elusive arcs. When he’d mastered that, he’d practice hitting the moving tire on the run. Sammy Baugh grew up to be a quarterback. And what a quarterback he’d be.
When Sammy turned 16, his family packed up and moved to Sweetwater, Texas. It was there that Baugh played his first organized football, and excelled at any number of sports. Ironically, it was his baseball skills that netted him a scholarship at Texas Christian University and the nickname ‘Slingin’ Sammy’. Sammy was the consummate athlete, playing baseball and basketball for the university, but it was his prowess with the football which was to earn him fame.
In 1936, Sammy’s junior year, he put TCU on the college football map. Led by Baugh’s rifle arm and heady athleticism, the Horned Frogs went undefeated through their first 10 games, and went on to win the Sugar Bowl 3-2 over LSU. Baugh made his mark not only as a quarterback, but was a fine defensive back, and punter. In the 1936 Sugar Bowl, Baugh picked off two passes, punted the ball 14 times averaging 48 yds per kick, and reeled off a 44 yard scramble to seal the win.
Baugh’s senior campaign was even more impressive as he led the Frogs to a 16-6 Cotton Bowl win over Marquette. Baugh was so dominant in the game, his coach Dutch Meyers sat him for the final quarter to avoid ‘embarrassing’ the opponent further. Baugh finished out an impressive collegiate career having completed 285 of 597 passes for 3,471 yards and 39 touchdowns.
Coach Meyers was to impart many enduring lessons to Baugh, instilling in him an appreciation for the short to mid-range passing attack. ‘Anyone can throw it long and miss’ was Meyer’s philosophy, but the secret to a feared attack was mixing the run with a brutally accurate short passing attack. And Baugh was his guy. Meyers served as Baugh’s baseball coach in addition to his football duties, and would later coach another NFL great, quarterback Davey O’Brien.
In the 1937 NFL Draft, five teams would pass by Sammy Baugh, despite his All-American credentials. They would rue the day. George Preston Marshall, owner of the Washington Redskins and Coach Ray Flaherty knew a diamond in the rough when they saw one. Having just moved the Redskins from Boston, they arrived in Washington DC and drafted Baugh, signing him to a 1 year contract for $8,000, making him the highest-paid player on his team. Baugh was no braggart, but he had a quiet confidence obvious to his teammates. At his first Redskins practice, Coach Ray Flaherty reportedly told Baugh ‘Let’s see you hit that receiver in the eye’. Baugh calmly replied ‘Which eye?’
Sammy’s first play in a Redskin uniform was a 30 yard kickoff return at Griffith Stadium. Amazingly, in his rookie season the 6’2”, 180 lb rookie quarterback led his new team all the way to the NFL Championship game. There, on a brutally frigid and wind-swept Wrigley Field, Baugh put on a passing clinic. In an NFL where passing was viewed as a novelty and was endorsed grudgingly, Sammy made believers out of all who watched that day. Passing for 335 yards and completing 17 of 33 passes including touchdown passes of 55, 78, and 33 yards, Baugh led his fledgling team to a 28-21 victory.
Baugh briefly flirted with his childhood dream of being a professional baseball player. He was signed to play for the farm team of the St. Louis Cardinals, but quickly found he lacked the hitting skills to make a go of it. And back to football he came, pausing briefly to marry his childhood sweetheart Edmonia Smith, with whom he would have 5 children.
Baugh and the Redskins would meet their nemesis the Chicago Bears three more times in championship games in the early 1940’s, including suffering a now infamous 73-0 drubbing. Following that game, Baugh was asked if one of his passes dropped in the end zone on the Redskin’s first drive might have changed the game. Baugh replied wryly ‘Yeah. It would’ve been 73-7’ Baugh had better luck in 1942 when he again led his Redskins to a 14-6 NFL Championship victory against the Bears, throwing a touchdown pass and kicking an 85 yd punt.
In 1943, Sammy Baugh led the league in interceptions (he picked off opponents 11 times), punting (averaging 46 yds per kick), and passing, but lost to the Bears in the championship after Baugh was knocked from the game with a concussion. Despite these early successes, Baugh didn’t hit his stride until the 1945 season when the Redskins switched to the ‘T formation’. It was only then that Sammy himself began calling the offensive plays. That year, Baugh finished the season with a 70.33 completion percentage, a record that held for many years.
Baugh changed what it was to quarterback in the National Football League forever. Prior to his arrival on the scene, the forward pass was seen as only a trick or gimmick, something you did on 3rd down when you had no other choice. Baugh threw passes on every down, and he changed the course of the NFL forever. His exciting play and prolific arm made him a star, and in 1941, Sammy even showed up on the silver screen when he starred as ‘Tom King Jr.’ in Republic Studio’s ‘King of the Texas Rangers’, a popular western serial.
Baugh played proficiently for another 5 years, finally retiring in 1952. He led the NFL in passing 6 of the 16 years he played, held the highest punt average four times, and led the league in interceptions once. He remains the only player to lead the league in an offensive, defensive, and special teams category. Over the course of his career, #33 completed 1,695 of 2,995 passes for an incredible 21,886 yards and 187 touchdowns in addition to rushing for an additional nine more. In addition to the two NFL championships, Baugh led the Redskins to 5 NFL East titles during his first 10 years with the
One of ‘Slingin’ Sammy’s’ best memories came on November 23rd, 1947, when the Washington Touchdown Club sponsored ‘Sammy Baugh Day’ at the Redskins game vs. the eventual NFL champs that year, the Chicago Cardinals. After receiving a gift, a brand new maroon station wagon, from the fans, Baugh returned the favor, blistering the Cardinals for six touchdowns and defeating them 45-21.
His playing days done, Sammy turned to coaching, first at the college level, and then as the first coach of the New York Titans (later to become the Jets). In 1962, Sammy served briefly as the coach of the Houston Oilers. In 1963, Sammy Baugh was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sammy in the 1937 NFC Championship Game
Sammy in the 1942 NFC Championship Game
Sammy Comes to DC!
See Sammy Sling!
TD Sammy Baugh!
Another TD Throw From Slingin' Sammy!
Sammy, the Elder Statesmen
It is with sad regret on this date on December 17th, 2008 that Sammy Baugh passed away. Here is the AP's all to breif write up on the life that was Sammy Baugh.
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -- Sammy Baugh, who set numerous passing records with the Washington Redskins in an era when NFL teams were running most every down, died Wednesday night, his son said.
Baugh, who was 94 and had numerous health issues, died at Fisher County Hospital in Rotan, David Baugh said.
David Baugh said his father had battled Alzheimer’s and dementia for several years. He had been ill recently with kidney problems, low blood pressure and double pneumonia.
"It wasn’t the same Sam we all knew," his son told The Associated Press. "He just finally wore out."
Sammy Baugh was the last surviving member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.
After starring at TCU, "Slingin’ Sammy" Baugh played with the Redskins from 1937 to 1952.
While he was noted for his passing, Baugh was one of the best all-around players of his day. One season he led the league in passing, defensive interceptions and punting. In one game, he threw four touchdown passes and intercepted four passes. He threw six touchdowns in a game -- twice -- and kicked an 85-yard punt.
"There’s nobody any better than Sam Baugh was in pro football," Don Maynard, a fellow West Texas Hall of Famer who played for Baugh, said in a 2002 interview. "When I see somebody picking the greatest player around, to me, if they didn’t go both ways, they don’t really deserve to be nominated. I always ask, ’Well, how’d he do on defense? How was his punting?"’
When Baugh entered the NFL, the forward pass was so rare that it was unveiled mostly in desperate situations. But Baugh passed any time.
As a rookie in 1937, Baugh completed a record 81 passes (about seven a game) and led the league with 1,127 yards. At the time, only six passers averaged three completions a game that year. He went on to lead the league in passing six times.
Baugh still holds Redskins records for career touchdown passes (187) and completion percentage in a season (70.3). His 31 interceptions on defense are third on the team’s career list. He still owns the league mark for single-season punting average (51.4).
"He was amazing, just tremendously accurate," Eddie LeBaron, who took over as Washington’s quarterback in Baugh’s last season, said in a 2002 interview. "He could always find a way to throw it off balance. I’ve seen him throw the ball overarm, sidearm and underarm and complete them."
The passing of a legend
December 17, 2008
Updated Dec. 18, 2008, 7:45 a.m. ET
Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh passed away on Wednesday at the age of 94. He was the last surviving member of the Hall of Fame’s charter Class of 1963.
“We are saddened to learn of the death of Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh, one of the game’s true pioneers and most versatile players,” commented Pro Football Hall of Fame President/Executive Director Steve Perry. “Sammy’s rare athletic talents changed the way the game was played. It is no exaggeration to say that his tremendous passing skills were a major factor in the evolution of the game from the grind-it-out days of old to the exciting passing game of today.”
Baugh entered the NFL scene in 1937 as the first round draft pick of the Washington Redskins. Over the next decade and a half, he revolutionized pro football’s passing game. His six NFL passing titles, while tied by fellow Hall of Famer Steve Young, have never been surpassed. He also excelled as a punter and defensive back.
Baugh still ranks second in numerous other statistical marks such as most seasons leading the league in pass attempts, most seasons leading in completions, most seasons leading the league in completion percentage and is tied for second for most seasons leading the league in passing yardage.
The pro football scene changed dramatically when Baugh joined the NFL in 1937. That year is also when the Redskins relocated from Boston to the nation's capital. The team could not make a go of it in Boston so they packed their bags and headed to Washington.
One of the first orders of business for owner George Preston Marshall was signing Baugh, a star from Texas Christian University, to a contract. The All-America back was the Redskins' first round choice, sixth overall, in the annual player draft held in December of 1936.
Marshall realized he had more than just a football player; he had a personality that could sell football. And that they did as "Slingin' Sammy" woke up the football world with his passing skills as he revolutionized the NFL during his 16 years with the Redskins. An astute businessman with a keen sense for the promotion of his product, Marshall signed Baugh to a personal services contract. Clause (3) of Baugh's 1938 contract read:
(3) In addition to the compensation hereinbefore set forth, each of the parties hereto shall receive fifty per centum (50%) of all moneys paid for endorsements, personal appearances, performances in theaters and movies, etc. by party of the second part during the term of this contract. It is herby understood and agreed between the parties hereto that the party of the first part shall have the right to make engagements for the party of the second part for such endorsements, personal appearances, performances in theaters and movies, etc.; and the part of the second part hereby aggress to fulfill such engagements upon the terms and condition set forth in this paragraph (3).
Marshall's intuition was right on the mark and Baugh wasted little time in proving his value on and off the football field. Before he ever threw a football at the pro level, Baugh had already been one of the most publicized players of his time.
In his very first season, Sammy led the Redskins to the NFL title. In the 1937 NFL Championship Game, he led the way by throwing for 335 yards and tossing three touchdown strikes in guiding the Redskins past the Chicago Bears, 28-21.
Baugh helped Washington to five division titles in his first 10 seasons and a second world championship in 1942. A simply outstanding all-around performer, Baugh excelled in passing, punting, and as a defensive back. In 1943, he recorded a rare "triple crown" when he led the National Football League in passing (133 completions, 1,754 yards, and 23 touchdowns), punting (50 punts for 45.9-yard average), and interceptions (11 interceptions returned for 112 yards).
Baugh's career achievements are numerous. His statistics were of the like never seen before and they became the measuring stick for all quarterbacks who have followed. He was a six-time individual passing champion, a marked tied by Young in 1997. In 1945, Baugh recorded an incredible 70.33 pass completion percentage, a record that stood for 37 years.
One of Baugh’s finest performances of his illustrious career came on November 23, 1947. That day, the Redskins paid tribute to their star quarterback by celebrating “Sammy Baugh Day.” Sammy entertained the home crowd by throwing for 355 yards and firing 6 touchdowns against the Chicago Cardinals.
Baugh, who split his career between tailback and T-quarterback, passed for 21,886 yards and 187 touchdowns. A seven-time All-NFL pick, Baugh also had a 45.1-yard per punt average and intercepted 31 passes as a defensive halfback. He was one of 17 football legends enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s charter class on September 7, 1963.
In all, Baugh threw for 21,866 yards and 186 touchdowns - figures that were astounding for his day. He also still ranks as the game's all-time leading punter with a career average of 45.10 yards.
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