The Associated Press
Sam Baugh, who set numerous passing records with the Washington Redskins in an era when NFL teams were running most every down, died Wednesday night, his son said.
Baugh, who was 94 and had numerous health issues, died at Fisher County Hospital in Rotan, David Baugh said.
David Baugh said his father had battled Alzheimer’s and dementia for several years. He had been ill recently with kidney problems, low blood pressure and double pneumonia.
“It wasn’t the same Sam we all knew,” his son told The Associated Press. “He just finally wore out.”
Sam Baugh was the last surviving member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.
After starring at TCU, “Slingin’ Sammy” Baugh played with the Redskins from 1937 to 1952.
While he was noted for his passing, Baugh was one of the best all-around players of his day. One season he led the league in passing, defensive interceptions and punting. In one game, he threw four touchdown passes and intercepted four passes. He threw six touchdowns in a game — twice — and kicked an 85-yard punt.
“There’s nobody any better than Sam Baugh was in pro football,” Don Maynard, a fellow West Texas Hall of Famer who played for Baugh, said in a 2002 interview. “When I see somebody picking the greatest player around, to me, if they didn’t go both ways, they don’t really deserve to be nominated. I always ask, ’Well, how’d he do on defense? How was his punting?’ ”
When Baugh entered the NFL, the forward pass was so rare that it was unveiled mostly in desperate situations. But Baugh passed any time.
As a rookie in 1937, Baugh completed a record 81 passes (about seven a game) and led the league with 1,127 yards. At the time, only six passers averaged three completions a game that year. He went on to lead the league in passing six times.
Baugh still holds Redskins records for career touchdown passes (187) and completion percentage in a season (70.3). His 31 interceptions on defense are third on the team’s career list. He still owns the league mark for single-season punting average (51.4).
“He was amazing, just tremendously accurate,” Eddie LeBaron, who took over as Washington’s quarterback in Baugh’s last season, said in a 2002 interview. “He could always find a way to throw it off balance. I’ve seen him throw the ball overarm, sidearm and underarm and complete them.”