‘Slingin’ Sam’ biographer Joe Holley set for Lunch with an Author at Marble Falls library

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — When Joe Holley of the Houston Chronicle worked for the Washington Post several years ago, he kept hearing about former Washington Redskins football player Sam Baugh.

“I would come across or hear something about Sam Baugh,” Holley said while on assignment in Paducah. “Now, you have to understand, Sam Baugh hadn’t played ball for about 60 years.”

But Holley and Baugh shared something in common. Both hailed from the Lone Star State, though their careers led them to the nation’s capital. Baugh, who helped usher in the modern era of football, when the forward pass became a legitimate form of moving the ball, set numerous records for passing, rushing and punting while playing for the Redskins.

Many of which still stand.

“I wondered, ‘What happened to Sam Baugh,'” Holley said. He approached his editor about going to Texas, finding Baugh and writing an article about the former Redskin and Texas Christian University quarterback.

He found the former athlete, who actually spent more time as a working cowboy than a profession football player, in a Jayton (Texas) nursing home. Instead of a man enamored with himself, Holley discovered someone who lived humbly.

“A lot of people who knew him as a cowboy didn’t even know he ever played football,” Holley said. “That’s the way he was. As famous as he was, he never took himself serious.”[box]IF YOU GO
WHAT: Lunch with an Author — Joe Holley
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Oct. 18
WHERE: Marble Falls Public Library, 101 S. Main St. in Marble Falls
FOR RESERVATIONS: Call the library at (830) 693-3023[/box]

Soon, Holley realized Baugh’s life, both off and on the field, warranted more than an article. Off and on for the next five years, Holley put Baugh’s life into the pages of a book. In 2012, Holley’s book, “Slingin’ Sam: The Life and Times of the Greatest Quarterback Ever to Play the Game,” hit bookstore shelves.

Holley, who now writes editorials and the column “Native Texan” for the Houston Chronicle, will be in Marble Falls on Oct. 18 for the Marble Falls Public Library’s Lunch with an Author series. The event starts at 11:30 a.m. at the library, 101 S. Main St. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the library at (830) 693-3023. Admission is free, but a donation is appreciated to help defray the cost of the meal.

“We like having these programs because it brings an author into the community, but it also is a chance to introduce people to other genres or types of books,” library director Mary Jackson said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to hear from an author about his or her book and what went into writing it.”

Along with sharing his experiences as an author and a columnist, Holley said he hopes people who attend also learn about the times in which Baugh lived. The story spans several decades from the 1930s through the 1950s, when both the country and Texas endured the Great Depression, World War II and a major drought.

While Baugh was alive during part of the time Holley was researching the man’s biography, the author said the former quarterback’s health was such he couldn’t really contribute much to the book. So, Holley relied on other sources, including one of Baugh’s sons, David.

But no matter whose door Holley knocked on while working on the book, once he mentioned Baugh’s name, he earned a good reception, and usually a good story.

“And whenever the story about Baugh ended, the person was usually smiling,” Holley said.

Baugh passed away in 2008.

Along with the book on Baugh, Holley has written a novel about Texas politics, “The Purse Bearer,” that is scheduled to be published in 2014. His “Native Texan” columns can be found at www.joe-holley.com or on his Facebook page.

The library will have copies of Holley’s book available for purchase during the Lunch with an Author event.

daniel@thepicayune.com