Tony Baker (running back, born 1945)
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|Date of birth||February 16, 1945|
|Place of birth||Burlington, Iowa|
|Date of death||August 9, 1998(aged 53)|
|Place of death||Mediapolis, Iowa|
|1968–1971||New Orleans Saints|
|1973–1974||Los Angeles Rams|
|1975||San Diego Chargers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Pro Bowls||1 (1968)|
Vernon Anthony "Touchdown Tony" Baker (February 16, 1945 – August 9, 1998) was an American football running back in the National Football League. He played from 1968 to 1975, and played for the New Orleans Saints, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Los Angeles Rams, and finally, the San Diego Chargers, ending his career with one Pro Bowl appearance in 1969.
Baker graduated from Burlington Community High School in 1963, earning a scholarship to Iowa State University the following year where he would graduate in 1966. He then played Semi-Pro ball for a season and a half, before being discovered by a talent scout for the New Orleans Saints. He would sign a contract with the Saints, and begin his NFL career the following year, making an appearance in the Pro Bowl in his second season. It was during this rookie season that sports broadcaster Howard Cosell gave him the nickname Touchdown Tony. He would end his career in 1975, playing with the San Diego Chargers as a backup.
Baker was killed in a car accident on U.S. Route 61, approximately 13 miles (21 km) north of Burlington, Iowa following a high school class reunion. He was 53 years old. He was buried in Aspen Grove Cemetery in Burlington, next to his mother, with many of his old NFL teammates in attendance. His burial plot was chosen by his family with two trees in the distance appearing as though they were goalpost uprights. A misprint on his headstone has him named Vernon G. Baker, instead of Vernon A. Baker.
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