It was one of those late August evenings in San Francisco where the first hint of autumn chill reminded everyone that summer doesn’t last forever. A stiff breeze off the water was present as usual, but there was a thick fog filling the bowl of Kezar Stadium that refused to budge. It was hard to know if it was the weather that kept people away, or if it was simple disinterest, but just 6,521 curiosity-seekers came out to watch the Chargers play the Raiders in the first meeting of these California rivals.
The Raiders finished preparations for tomorrow night’s game against the Chargers. The team began to work new quarterback Babe Parilli into the system, but he was not likely to be up to speed enough to play against Los Angeles. As in the previous two contests, Tom Flores was expected to carry the load for most of the game, if not the whole thing.
With the addition of Babe Parilli, the Raiders decided they had too many quarterbacks on the roster and cut recent addition, Bobby Newman. With Tom Flores the clear front-runner for the starting job, that left injury-prone Bob Webb and undersized Paul Larson to compete with Parilli for the backup job.
The Raiders made two other cuts today. The first, halfback John Brown, played very sparingly in the first two preseason games, carrying three times for just one yard. Guard Gil Ane was also waived. Ane had been signed earlier in the month but, for personal reasons, had never appeared in camp.
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The Raiders announced a big signing today with the addition of Babe Parilli, a 6’2″, 205-pound quarterback out of Kentucky. He had a storied college career with the Wildcats, making first-team All-America in 1950 and 1951 and leading his team to an upset win over Oklahoma in the 1951 Sugar Bowl and was named player of the game in the 1952 Cotton Bowl. His pro career was a little less successful. The Green Bay Packers chose him in the first round in 1952, but poor accuracy and a tendency to throw interceptions limited his opportunities during his time in the NFL. After the Packers let him go in 1958, he played a season in Canada for the Ottawa Rough Riders. His arrival in Oakland followed a long period of negotiation, but the Raiders finally hooked him.
After his first practice, head coach Eddie Erdelatz said he “liked what I saw.” Parilli’s signing increased the number of quarterbacks on the roster to five: Tom Flores, Paul Larson, Bobby Newman, Bob Webb, and Parilli.
Additionally, the team signed 5’10”, 185-pound halfback Luther “Hit and Run” Carr. A third-team All-Pacific Coast Conference performer at the University of Washington, Carr had been drafted in the 21st round of the 1959 draft by the 49ers, but was cut by them just before the start of the regular season. More recently, Carr had been in camp with the Chargers, but that team had let him go just a few days prior to his signing with the Raiders. Initially, he would be fourth on the depth chart at the position.
From the medical staff, the team received some bad news when they learned that their starting right tackle, Chris Plain, was probably out for the year with torn cartilage in his knee and a broken ankle. Plain had left the Titans game in the first quarter, but at the time the team didn’t consider the injury serious. However, x-rays showed differently. Either Joe Barbee or Don Churchwell would take his spot on the line.
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After having watched films of the Titans game, Raider head coach Eddie Erdelatz said he was making some changes to the offense. The team would now use a split end and a tight end instead of the two tight end formation they had previously been using. Along with that change, Erdelatz announced a shuffling of the depth chart at the ball-handling positions. To wit:
Split end: Charlie Hardy, Alan Goldstein, John Brown
Tight end: Gene Prebola, Charles Moore
Flanker: Dan Edgington, Irv Nikolai, Brad Myers
Halfback: Tony Teresa, Jack Larscheid, Ron Drzewiecki
Fullback: Billy Lott, Buddy Allen, Dean Philpott
Despite the changes, the Raider coach had nothing but good things to say about his team’s performance, praising the interior of the offensive line — Jim Otto, Wayne Hawkins, and Ron Sabal — in particular.
“We played well as a team against the Titans,” he said, “It appears as though the way we practice is paying off. The kids could have gone another half had they needed to. This gang has great spirit. I’ve seen such hustle work wonders before and it looks like it’s happening again.”
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A day after the team’s first win, Raider head coach Eddie Erdelatz reminded everyone he had no intention of taking his foot off the pedal in preseason games. “Winning comes number one with me,” he said, “It’s even more important than the money. I can’t speak for other coaches, but when a team of mine plays football, it plays to win. That’s the purpose of the game, isn’t it?”
The team provided an update on the two players injured in the Titans game. Fullback Billy Lott had suffered a neck injury and tackle Chris Plain hurt his leg. Both injuries were described as “minor” and the team expected both players to be ready to go against the Chargers.
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.”