"Get a Stetson," Marshall said on the phone.
"What size do you wear?" Baugh asked?
"It's for you, not me," said Marshall, "and get yourself a cowboy outfit, a fancy one."
When Baugh deplaned in Washington for his contract-signing ceremonies, he was outfitted in a flaring Stetson, a checkered shirt, whip-cord pants and, worse luck, those high-heeled boots, the complete cowboy except that he didn't know which side of a horse to mount.
Those narrow Texas boots were his undoing. "Mah feet hurt," said Sammy as he literally limped to the Occidental Hotel for his welcome-to-Washington luncheon. But Marshall had given him a $500 bonus for signing, atop an $8,000 contract, and Sammy said, "Ah guess I've got to dress to suit him, not me."
The irony was that in years to come, Tenderfoot Baugh, of the literally tender feet, whose cowboy career started out as a gag, would become as genuine a cowpoke as any wild-riding sonofagun on the range. With football earnings that reached $15,000 a year, tops, and other income from Hollywood, he would acquire the 35,000-acre cattle ranch in Rotan, Texas, a passion for horses and enough ability with a rope to get him into some rodeos.
The defining anecdote about Baugh through the years has been the story of how, when he first reported to the Redskins, he was told by coach Ray Flaherty, "Sammy you're with the pros now, and they want the football where they can catch it. Hit `em in the eye."
Whereupon rookie Baugh said, "Which eye?"
Of course, the tale was widely taken as a bit of hyperbole, a way to underline Baugh's passing perfection. But, whaddayaknow, it turns out to be true. Sammy confirmed it 60 years later on the phone from Texas. "Yep, ah said it," he acknowledged. "First and last time in my life ah was cocky."
Despite his reputation as the great Hall of Fame quarterback, Baugh didn't get to play quarterback for the Redkskins until his fifth season. Signal calling was handled mostly by Smith, the wingback in the Redskins' single-wing and double-wing formations.