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On this day in Washington history – October 28th, 1945 – Washington beat New York 24-14 at the Polo Grounds in New York.

Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh threw two touchdown passes. The first one, a 22-yarder to Wilbur Moore, and the second, a 6-yard toss to Wayne Milner. Washington scored 24 unanswered points en route to a comfortable road victory in front of 55,461 Giants fans.

The name not in any of those scoring stats is Steve Bagarus. But he played a big part that day. His biggest day ever by far. He caught 8 passes for a whopping 162 yards.

That’s a terrific total by modern football standards, but in 1945, it was lofty indeed.

Baugh went 19 of 25 for 231 yards. That means that he only had 69 yards, to Guys-Not-Named-Bagarus.

Consider this, Bagarus finished 3rd in the league that year in both number of receptions (34) and total receiving yards (617). He was selected a First Year All Pro for doing so.

In a ten game All Pro season, he got one quarter of his year’s statistics that day at the Polo Grounds. That’s pretty spectacular.

Bagarus impressively finished second in the league in All Purpose Yards in 1945, with 1347. His 251 yards on punt returns were the absolute best in the league, and his 325 yards on kickoff returns were third best.

More Information

Bagarus was a great athlete. He went to the University of Notre Dame on a basketball scholarship. He was drafted into the Army in his Junior year.

He played football with the San Diego Bombers in the Pacific Coast Football League from 1941 to 1944. He led the league in touchdowns three times and scoring twice, before catching the eye of Washington owner George Preston Marshall.

Steve Bagarus

Bagarus wore a “00” on his jersey when he played halfback. He was an outstanding receiver out of the backfield, and a bruising open-field runner.

Revered Washington Post Sports Editor Shirley Povich, in 1949 called him “the most feared ball carrier on the Redskins.”

What Happened To Him?

Bagarus had another good campaign in 1946. He caught 31 passes for 438 yards, and led the team in interceptions (4) on the defensive side of the ball.

Still, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Rams, where he broke his leg in the second game. He was in a cast for seventeen weeks, and missed the rest of the 1947 season.

Doctors told him that he would never play again. He proved them wrong but lost some of the speed that made him effective. The Rams waived him in 1948.

Washington picked him up for the last five games. He caught 15 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown.

In 1949, Bagarus pulled his groin in preseason training and struggled to recover. Washington placed him on the waiver list, and subsequently, he retired.

After Football

Bagarus stayed in the D.C. area after his football days were over. He made his way in automobile sales for over thirty years. He worked at King Pontiac in Gaithersburg, Maryland until May of 1981 when he retired for health reasons.

He passed away in October of that year from Cancer.

He was 62 years old.

Circling Back Around

The tough halfback caught 80 passes, totalling 1155 yards in his professional career. That makes the 162 yards against the Giants almost 15% of his career output.

This was a banner day for Stephen Michael Bagarus Jr. – October 28th – seventy-six years ago today.

How many times did he sell a GTO or a Firebird talking about “that time he hung 162 yards on the G-Men.”

Hopefully at least 162 times.

Rest in peace Mr. Bagarus.


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