Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sammy Baugh

People never forgot Slingin' Sammy Baugh.

Every day as many as four letters arrived at the West Texas ranch the pioneering quarterback called home.

Baugh, whose use of the forward pass took him to the Hall of Fame after a career with the Washington Redskins, died Wednesday night. He was 94.

The letters came from young and old. Some asked for an autograph from Baugh (pronounced Baw). But in the last several years of his life he couldn't oblige them.

His son David Baugh responded to each one, telling fans his father could no longer hold a pen.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett even wrote to Baugh, and like so many others "just talked about how he was an inspiration in their lives," David Baugh told The Associated Press. "He did a lot of things pretty good, not just as an athlete. He was a good rancher, roper. He was a pretty good man."

Sammy Baugh was the last surviving member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural class of 1963.

After starring at TCU, "Slingin' Sammy" played with the Redskins from 1937 to 1952, leading them to the NFL title in his rookie season and again in 1942.

Baugh was the best all-around player in an era when versatility was essential. In 1943, he led the league in passing, punting and interceptions. In one game, he threw four touchdowns and also intercepted four passes. He threw six touchdowns passes in a game twice. His 51.4-yard punting average in 1940 remains the NFL record.

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