Sammy was the tailback, throwing passes and doing the punting. He also did some running for the first three seasons until his passing became so valuable that Baugh's runs were verboten.
When the Redskins put in the T-formation in 1940, with Baugh taking the snaps close up, Sammy continued his string of years in which he led the league in passing: 1937-40-43-45-47-49. He often was the leader in punting as well, most often resorting to his favorite, 70-yard quick kick when he saw his receivers covered.
The quick pass was one of Baugh's strategies as well as the quick kick. He got the pass away with speed because the center, on signal, would snap the ball to him in the vicinity of his right ear, where it would be in instant throwing position.
In one season, Baugh completed a record 70.3 percent of his passes, and one day he had an 85.7 completion rate. In his best season his kicking average was 50.7 yards a kick. The NFL archives are laden with his records.
Never was there a more popular football hero in Washington. His Number 33 was so famed that when my 12-year-old son suggested that I watch his neighborhood football team play one day, he said, "I'll be wearing Number 33." When I arrived at the field I noted that jersey Number 33 was also the choice of both tackles, the center, the quarterback and the fullback.
Truth to tell, Baugh originally was endowed with the name of "Slingin' Sammy" because of his great arm as a baseball player, not as a passing quarterback.
And it was on a baseball scholarship that he went to TCU, not a football scholarship. He played shortstop for TCU, was scouted and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals upon graduation. He was in training camp with the Cardinals and played in their minor league system. But the curve ball was his enemy, and he saw the futility of continuing as a Cardinal shortstop hope when Marty Marion suddenly appeared on the Cardinal scene as their prize rookie.
So it was to football that he would devote his career, starting in the era before the platoons. Sammy played both ways for the Redskins, as a tailback and defensive back. His interception of four passes in a single game broke a league record. Actually, the first time he laid hands on a football as a Redskin it was to make a 30-yard runback of the opening kickoff in his first game, against the Giants in Griffith Stadium.