This Morning: Slingin' Sammy Baugh, a Real Hero
By Shirley Povich
There he stood, a marked man and yet he could beat the Chicago Bears, the best defensive unit in professional football, with the power of his passes. Against Baugh, they prided themselves they had a defense. But there was no defense for the deftness of those pitches he made today and there was no defense, furthermore for the raw, naked courage of the tall boy from Texas.
For Sammy Baugh this afternoon was virtually a one-legged football player. Early in the second quarter, vicious Bears who knew that to top the Redskins they had to stop Baugh, all but paralyzed him with a wicked tackle early in the second quarter. It was with a hip wracked with pain and a left leg well-nigh useless that Sammy Baugh beat the Bears.
Bruised hip? Injured leg? Huh, those were trifles compared to what had happened to his pitching hand. Because there across the palm was a deep gash that cried for attention, but on the Redskinsí bench the trainer was not informed.
Disappointed in two previous East-West play-offs when they failed to win the National League title, the Bears were a vicious outfit today. From the opening whistle it was apparent that they were out to "get" Slinginí Sammy as the greatest guarantee of victory. In the second quarter, they got him.
Back there passing, he was too clever for íem, ducking their vicious rushes and getting rid of the ball before he was assaulted by such as the 258-pound George Musso, Bear guard, or the 210-pound Danny Fortmann, Bear tackle, or the 230-pound Joe Stydhar, Fortmannís running mate who came pouring bent on dispatching the slim, near-frail youth from Texas who was whipping íem with his passes.
Back there passing, though, he knew how to defend himself. With something of a disdain for the Bearsí rushes, he neatly skipped out of harmís way. But once, in that second quarter, he attempted to run the ball. And a clever run it was, 10 yards through the middle of the Bearsí line. But stepping out of his favorite role, Baugh met up with grief.
Under the Heap
When he did, it was with a noticeable limp that he started back to the Redskinsí backfield. Then, a stabbing pain in his hip forced him to call time out. From his right hand, blood was dripping profusely. He said he was all right.
And so it was that a crippled Sammy Baugh stayed in the game to throw three touchdown passes in the next period, to continue to sling his spiraling messages of grief into the Bearsí secondary defense in the fourth quarter and complete a pitching masterpiece with 17 successful passes in 34 attempts, the greatest number of pass completions in the history of a National League Football game.
Coldest in Life
And he was operating, too, for the first time in his life, in rubber soled basketball shoes, not the conventional football cleats in which he had been reared. On the frost-coated field, cleats were impossible, rubber-shod footwear afforded a precarious footing at best. But it was with a fine disregard for all of these handicaps that Slinginí Sammy went to work.
How well he did his work is pretty evident. When they call the role of football heroes, the name of Samuel Adrian Baugh will be hovering near the top.