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TCU Football Countdown: 45 Days

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Remembering TCU great, #45 Slingin' Sammy Baugh

Samuel Adrian Baugh, born on St. Patrick's day in 1914 on a farm near Temple TX, ended up being one lucky guy! After his years as quarterback for the Sweetwater HS Mustangs, he planned to play baseball at Washington State University. However, he hurt his knee sliding into second base one month before school started, and his scholarship fell through. Dutch Meyer then recruited him to TCU to play football, basketball, and baseball.

Baugh was a two time All-American at TCU in 1935 and 1936. He led the team in the rain and mud to a 3-2 win over LSU in the 1936 Sugar Bowl. He was the team's MVP in the first Cotton Bowl Classic in 1937, a 16-6 victory over Marquette. He threw 597 passes in three seasons for 39 touchdowns, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame 1951. But it was as the third baseman for TCU Baseball that Baugh was dubbed "Slingin' Sammy" by a sportswriter.

After college, Baugh turned down an offer to stay at TCU as an assistant coach and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. He played in the minor leagues at their Columbus and Rochester teams before deciding to pursue professional football instead. He was drafted by the Redskins in the first round in 1937. Partly because the Redskins had just moved from Boston that year, Baugh was quoted to have responded, "Frankly, I didn't know what they were talking about, because I had never heard of either the draft or the Washington Redskins."  In the 1945 season, he completed 128 of 182 passes for a 70.33 percentage, which is still the fourth best in the NFL today. He was the NFL Player of the Year 1947 and 1948, and the passing champion six years, which is still the record for number of seasons. In his NFL days at Washington, legend has it that when once told to hit a receiver in the eye with a pass, Baugh replied, "Which eye, coach?"  He played with them until 1952, and his #33 became the only number retired by the Redskins to date. He left the NFL with 13 records at the three positions of quarterback, punter, and defensive back, and is considered one of the all-time greatest players in football history. He is credited with making the forward pass a regular part of the game of football.

Baugh was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the 17 member charter class in 1963. Baugh also became an actor in 1942, starring as Tom King in the Saturday matinee serial "King of the Texas Rangers." I recently bought the set, and can't wait to see "Slingin' Sammy Baugh" in action! After his careers in sports and acting, Baugh lived out the rest of his life as a rancher, which he said he enjoyed even more.  When his wife Edmonia passed away in 1990, the high school sweethearts from Sweetwater had been married 52 years. Sweetwater HS has also retired his number 21 there. Baugh was the last surviving member of the 1963 Hall of Fame class when he passed away in Rotan TX in 2008. His sons still run the family Double Mountain Ranch.

TCU's indoor football practice facility is named after Baugh: with 45 days until game one, and triple digits on the temperature gauge, current players are probably even more grateful for the Slingin' Sammy's legacy and the facility that bears his name than ever.