It had been an uncomfortably hot day in Sacramento but by game time the sun had gone down and the temperature had dropped into the mid-70s. A pleasant breeze took any remaining heat off the air and clear skies promised a perfect evening for football. It was under these conditions that the Oakland Raiders and New York Titans took the field at Hughes Stadium, on the campus of Sacramento City College. Just 9,551 paying customers filled the 22,000-seat facility to see the 0-1 teams get acquainted for the first time.
With Bob Webb’s return to the land of the infirm, the Raiders went out and signed former El Cerrito High and Washington State star quarterback Bobby Newman to a contract. The 6’2″ Newman had led the country in total offense as a junior with the Cougars in 1957 and were drafted by the 49ers the next year in the second round. However, he had subsequently washed out of three different NFL camps before being picked up by the Raiders.
Newman was happy to be in Oakland. “It’s great to be with a local team again,” he said, “and from all I hear it will be a pleasure to play for (head coach) Eddie Erdelatz.” Still, with just one day in camp he wouldn’t be ready to take the field against the Titans.
The New York squad was coming into the game with an 0-1 record, having lost their exhibition opener to the Chargers 27-7. Erdelatz wasn’t taking them lightly, though. In his estimation, the Titans had a number of high caliber players including their quarterbacks, Al Dorow and Dick Jamieson. Like many of his teammates, Dorow had significant NFL experience, spending three seasons with the Redskins and another with the Eagles. Jamieson was still a rookie, but had done some camp time with the Colts. Others with an NFL pedigree were fullback Fran Rogel, an eight-year veteran with the Steelers, several of them on the starting platoon, and rangy flanker, Don Maynard, a former Giants receiver and rated by Erdelatz as “one of the best ends I’ve seen”. On defense, former 49ers, Eagles, and Browns defensive end Sid Youngelman was showing well. But maybe the best defender on the team was a rookie linebacker out of Mississippi, Larry Grantham. Fortunately for the Raiders, he had broken his ankle against the Chargers and would be out for several weeks.
Holding the team together, aches, pains and all, was head coach Sammy Baugh. Eight years removed from a long career with the Washington Redskins in which he redefined the quarterbacking position for generations to come, Baugh was back in pro football after a stint coaching at Hardin-Simmons where he took the Cowboys to the 1958 Sun Bowl. Under his tutelage, the Titans were expected to run a “pass and trap” offense similar to that of the Cleveland Browns in their All-America Conference heyday.
Baugh was unperturbed by the loss in the preseason opener. “We made the usual first game errors,” he said, “and were not quite as far along as the Chargers. We will be a good club before this year is over because we have some potentially fine pros.”
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After a couple of days at full health, two players turned up with injuries in practice today. Quarterback Bob Webb, just days back from a twisted knee at the beginning of camp, reinjured the joint and will be out for the Titans game, at least. Shortly thereafter, end Carl Isaacs also went down with a knee injury during a receiving drill. Occurring just 40 minutes into a scheduled 90 minute practice, Eddie Erdelatz had seen enough and scrapped the rest of the workout, fearing even more damage just two days before the team’s next game.
It was apparent that Tom Flores was emerging as the Raiders’ starting quarterback for the 1960 campaign.
“if this kid can get through without any injuries, he’s going to have a great season,” was Eddie Erdelatz’ opinion. He called Flores “a great natural athlete who learns fast and well. He throws the ball extremely well, has great football sense, and a marvelous attitude. He’s a real good one.”
That left Paul Larson and Bob Webb to compete for the second string role as the team planned to carry only two quarterbacks. Webb missed a lot of time with a knee injury before returning to practice and Larson had been fighting off the rust of two years inaction.
Meanwhile, Erdelatz’ general enthusiasm was earning the praise of his players. Tom Louderback said, “It’s great being in a camp like this. This team has more spirit than any college club I’ve seen. I’ll tell you this — we may lose some games, but you’ll never see this team quit.”