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Outstanding in Their Fields

Some of the stuff we looked into while you were reading last month’s issue

A birthday and a passing offer history lessons. And no need to check your eyes: Some of those bluebonnets really are super blue.

A Humdinger of a Slinger

Pro Football Hall of Fame Washington Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh would have been a baseball star if he’d had his way.

Baugh, born March 17, 1914, outside of Temple, was a two-time All-America quarterback at Texas Christian University. But it was because of his throws from third base as a member of the Horned Frogs’ baseball team that he earned the nickname Slingin’ Sammy. Though drafted by Washington, he signed a contract to play baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals. (The scout who signed him was Rogers Hornsby, a Hall of Famer from Winters.)

After his rookie season with the Redskins, Baugh spent the summer of 1938 as a minor-league baseball player. After struggling to hit the curveball, he quit baseball and returned to the Redskins, where he continued a 16-year career that landed him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

You can read Texas Co-op Power’s 2009 feature, “Slingin’ Sammy Baugh,” on

He Wrote Texas’ History Book

T.R. Fehrenbach wanted to make sure his depiction of the story of Texas was vast and mythological. The journalist and author of more than 20 books succeeded.

When he died December 1 at the age of 88, obituaries in the San Antonio Express-News and The New York Times included the phrase “larger than life” to describe Fehrenbach’s mark on Texas literature. He is best known for his 1968 book “Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans,” a tome of more than 700 pages that begins in prehistory and continues through the age of the oil barons. An editorial in The Dallas Morning News described the book as “a must-read for students, lovers of Texas history and new arrivals to the state.”

Fehrenbach, born in San Benito in 1925, was also a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News for almost 30 years and served as chairman of the Texas Historical Commission from 1987 to 1991.

New Hue Is Bluer Than Blue

Keep your eyes peeled this spring for extra-blue bluebonnets, developed by Texas A&M University horticulturists and named Lady Bird Johnson Royal Blue.

“We discovered Lady Bird Johnson in a field of red bluebonnets,” says Jerry Parsons, a former AgriLife Extension horticulturist who selected a line that is a true Aggie maroon in 1995. “We were trying to isolate reds out from maroon bluebonnets, and we were getting these really dark blues coming up in the red fields.”

The Lady Bird Johnson produces more blooms than a typical bluebonnet and up to 40 percent more seeds, making it easy to propagate.

By the Numbers: 1,236

In 2012, 16,812 kidney transplants took place in the U.S., according to the National Kidney Foundation. Of those, 1,236 occurred in Texas, says the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (See “A Story Without a Finish Line,” this month’s Observations.) Learn more about organ donation at