From our files: Sammy Baugh: In Passing
'Slingin' Sammy Baugh, who died yesterday, revolutionized the forward pass as a Hall of Fame quarterback for the Washington Redskins from 1937-1952.
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Sammy went out for football as a freshman, but he failed to establish a reputation as a good football player. Francis Schmidt, head football coach, attributed Sammy's so-so play to the fact that he was too slim for football, anyway. For the first time, however, the easygoing Baugh was unwilling to ride along on that excuse. That freshman year he developed something more important than a reputation, he developed a determiniation to become more than a mediocre football player. He was beginning to get football fever, to feel that the autumn game was more than a change of pace from baseball.Skip to next paragraph
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It became obvious to Sammy that he did have a natural ability to pass. He watned to develop it, but he realized that he would have to become a better all-around player in order to make the passing count.
During his sophmore year, Sam studied the game of football. He spent hours on the fundamentals of the game, trying to imagine himself in every position on the team(he played quarterback) and in every conceivable situation. The team as a whole, and how it should operate - this was what Sammy had to know in order to do a good job of quarterbacking. He assimilated facts, and he began, gradually, to put his knowledge to work on the field. At first his play was marred by extreme nervousness. But he stuck to it and, as he saw theory work out on the field, developed self-confidence.
Sammy Baugh was a fine, workmanlike quarterback when he reported to his coach at the beginning of junior year. As serious practice got under way, he proved that he could punt well too, and he gave every indication of being a calm player, sure of what should be done in every situation.
Having painstakingly built the groundwork, Sammy was ready to reap the rewards. His passing, always his strong point but worthless without all-around basic ability, came into its own. It seemed to unhappy rivals of TCU that Baugh just couldn't miss. While fans screamed themselves hoarse, Baugh passed TCU into the Sugar Bowl. Even then he had no idea of how good he really was, and few other people guessed it.
After graduation from TCU, Same figured still that he might find a steadier, more dependable job in baseball. He played a season in the minor leagues. The next year he returned to football, hoping that his passing arm would enable him to make good with the professional Washington Redskins.
Since then, football fans have had occasion to be very thankful for Sammy's decision. His amazing marksmanship changed passing from a desparation measure to good, sound football. In 11 years of professional play, he has netted 15,000 yards for the Redskins on passing alone. Again and again his passes have been touchdown throws. As he himself admits, he is getting a little old now for the rugged game of football, being 34. There is talk of replacing him with a recent graduate of college football. But in a sense, Sammy cannot be replaced. He was a trail blazer, a pioneer, and the fellow who comes after will be treading a well-marked path.