Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sam Baugh, 1914-2008

Lower the team flags; fly the championship standards at half-mast; the Wimple will be draped for mourning until the Frogs win their next game. TCU's- and football's- first great passer has crossed the plane of that great endzone in the sky. Baugh was the last living member of the inaugural Pro Football Hall of Fame, and a member of the college hall of fame as well. As the FWST aptly puts it, he was the original cowboy quarterback. He was 94.

Here're clips of a interview with Baugh when he was already an old man, with footage from his NFL days; see him passing as a Washington Redskin.

The Deseret News ran a great editorial about Baugh prior to the Frogs' '06 clash with BYU. Ray Buck, Jeff Wilson, Kevin Sherrington; Washington Post; ESPN's Luksa; Baugh timeline; LATimes; AP; ESPN story, and interviews Mike Ditka (in video), Dr. Saturday; Dick Heller.

1 comment:

echo7tango said...

It was 1995. I'd been reading the book, 75 Seasons of the NFL. In 1943 Baugh led the league in passing (yardage and touchdown passes), punting yardage, and interceptions made. Now THERE is a record that will stand forever. I never met Sam Baugh, and I never watched him play since I was born in the 60's and am too young. But I received that book as a Christmas gift from my mother and read about his exploits.

On a whim I called Directory Assistance for Rotan, TX and asked for Sam Baugh. The name was listed! The lady gave me a phone number, I called it, and seconds later I can't believe it, but I am actually talking to the legend himself, Sam Baugh! My eyes about popped right out of my head.

Being a 49er fan and thinking of Montana and Young and their mastery of the game, I wondered what Baugh thought about 90's football and how those 49er greats helped to perfect Bill Walsh's West Coast Offense and transform the game, much like he did in some sixty years prior. Sam Baugh was very polite. There I was, calling him at home, interrupting whatever it is a legend does. He said he would love to be playing in today's game, that today's player is lucky to be playing in such an open era. There was none of that "back in my day, when real men played, the game was better" from him. On the contrary, he explicitly said it wasn't better back then. You could hear his excitement come through the phone cord.

I told him about my book and sheepishly asked if I could send it for his autograph. He graciously obliged, "Just send it to Sam Baugh, Rotan, Texas. That's it, just Sam Baugh, Rotan, Texas. It'll get to me" That's what happens when one becomes a legend, I guess.

It was just a few minutes, maybe 5 or 10 at most, but for that brief time I felt like the luckiest guy on earth, just a software engineer working in Santa Clara, CA and talking to a football legend.

He signed my book right where I'd asked him to. And I still keep that return envelope from Sam Baugh, Rotan TX – it's right with my book.

Good night, Slingin' Sammy, wherever you are.