With the first day of training camp under his belt, new signee Sandy Lederman was undaunted by his competition at quarterback.
“If I get a good shot at the job,” he said,” I’m sure I can throw better than anyone in camp. I played against (Paul) Larson when he was at Cal and I figure I’m a better passer. I’m not just bragging. Paul is a great athlete, but he is more a halfback than a thrower. He runs a team real well and had a flair for signal calling, but when it comes to passing, and that is the big thing in the pros, I figure I have an edge. I don’t know too much about (Tom) Flores, but from what I saw in that first drill he can really wing that ball.
“(Tony) Teresa was in Canada when I played there and he was a good defensive back which I understand is where he’ll play with this club, although he is listed as a quarterback, too.”
Lederman had more to say about the team in general. “There are some really top guys here,” he said, “I would say they appear to be on the level with the Chargers although everyone seems to automatically pick LA as the big gun. (Head coach Eddie) Erdelatz and his staff seemed real organized. They really put us through a rugged two hours Monday so you can see they mean business.”
To mark the opening of training camp, the Oakland Tribune published the current version of the roster, more or less. Lederman wasn’t included, but there were a number of names that hadn’t appeared in previous stories or versions of the roster:
Buddy Alliston, a 6’0″, 220-pound linebacker out of Mississippi. Alliston made second-team AP All-SEC in 1955, his senior year with the Rebels and was drafted by the Packers, but ended up in Canada. He played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for a couple of years before joining the US Air Force for an 18-month stint. Upon leaving the service he tried to get his old job back in Winnipeg, but couldn’t crack the starting lineup. He originally turned up in Denver’s camp before coming to Oakland.
John Brown, a 5’11”, 175-pound halfback out of Iowa State. He was known mostly for his speed on the field and was a quarter-miler for the Cyclones in the spring. Brown was never able to secure a permanent starting spot in college, but his fleet feet continued to intrigue coaches.
Tom Cousineau, a 6’1″, 235-pound guard from Indiana. Before joining the Hoosiers, Cousineau was in the US Marines, serving in the Korean War. Once back Stateside, he wrestled and played football for Indiana, but was frequently injured, breaking his right leg in his sophomore season. After college, he went into coaching, but was back to give pro football a try in the AFL.
Tom Davis, a 6’0″, 235-pound fullback out of Pepperdine. Tom “the Tank” was, naturally, a hard-hitting, straight ahead runner for the Waves, averaging 6.5 yards per carry for them in 1955.
Bob Fails, a 6’4″, 180-pound end from Idaho State. Fails was a star cager at Eastern Arizona Junior College before transferring to Pocatello for the 1955 season. He made All-Rocky Mountain Conference during both of his seasons with the Bengals and was expected to vie for a spot on defense with the Raiders.
Fred Fehn, a 6’2″, 245-pound tackle from Monterey Peninsula Junior College. Fehn, a Santa Cruz High School graduate, didn’t leave behind much of a record of his playing days with the Lobos.
Max Fields, a 5’10”, 185-pound halfback out of Whittier College. An outstanding runner with the Poets, Fields gained over 1,100 yards in 1956, getting more than ten yards a pop, leading the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in yards and touchdowns. He tried out for the 49ers in 1958, but left the team during camp and spent the season playing for the Orange County Rhinos of the Pacific Football Conference. In 1959, he returned to Whittier to be an assistant coach under Don Coryell.
Charlie Hardy, a 6’0″, 180-pound end from San Jose State. A solid receiver for the Spartans, Hardy was named to the San Jose State athletics hall of fame upon graduation. He turned up in 49ers camp in 1958, but was cut before the start of the regular season.
Bob Harrison, a 6’3″, 240-pound lineman out of Washington and Lee. A bit of an enigma, the Tribune listed him as playing for Washington State, but the Cougars don’t list him in their media guide. However, a perusal of Washington and Lee yearbooks shows that a Bob Harrison played for the Generals for a single year, 1959, putting in time at offensive tackle and doing some placekicking and that’s probably him in Raider camp.
Bob Webb, a 6’0″, 205-pound quarterback from St Ambrose. Webb was a prolific passer for the Fighting Bees, setting school records for career passing yards and touchdowns and making AP Little All-America honorable mention in 1956, his sophomore season. The Packers drafted him in the 11th round in 1959, but he was cut early in camp. He tried his hand with the Saskatchewan Roughriders as well, but ended up playing for the semi-pro Des Moines Dragons that fall. Prior to coming to Oakland, he had spent a time in Broncos camp.
Additionally, several players who had previously been identified as part of the team were not listed:
Wes Fry, Jr.
Whether they had left the team unannounced or were still with the Raiders wasn’t clear.
There were also a handful of players not previously mentioned or listed on the roster, but were also in camp:
Walt Denny, an end from Idaho. Mostly a defensive specialist with the Vandals, Denny was a ball-hawking back with a knack for the long runback. He was also a varsity basketball player with Idaho.
Curt Iaukea, a 6’3″, 235-pound tackle out of California. Iaukea was a starter on the Bear line for a couple of years, but dropped out of school in 1958 because of academic troubles. He hooked up with the British Columbia Lions that summer then ended up with Montreal halfway through the following season.
Mose Mastelotto, a 6’1″ end from Chico State. An outstanding performer for the Wildcats both on the gridiron and on the hardwood, Mastelotto made first team All-Far Western Conference in 1955 in football and was honorable mention in basketball in 1957.
Gordon Tovani, placekicker who graduated from the University of Oregon, but did not play football there. Tovani’s claim to fame was as a barefoot kicker who was reputed to be uncannily accurate in his kicks up to and longer than 50 yards. There were stories that he had hit from 70 yards out. He claimed that the weight of a shoe diminished his skills, but that collegiate rules forbade his kicking without one. In a tryout for the 49ers a couple of years previous, he hadn’t come close to living up to his legend, but the myth persisted. Now 32 years old, and working as a meat salesman, he had been brought in by Erdelatz for a look-see.
Erdelatz was expected to make his first roster cuts almost immediately. He was reportedly frustrated by the sheer number of players in camp — 76 — and said “when we get to 55 or 50 guys it will go a lot smoother.”
Arizona Daily Sun
Atlantic News Journal
Biloxi Daily Herald
Brazil Daily Times
Cedar Rapids Gazette
Huron Huronite and Daily Plainsman
Idaho State football media guide
Medicine Hat News
Nevada State Journal
St Ambrose University football media guide
Terre Haute Spectator
Washington Evening Journal
Washington State University football media guide
Waterloo Daily Courier
Winnipeg Free Press