With Tom Flores unavailable to play quarterback in the near term and with roster reductions looming, Raiders head coach Eddie Erdelatz was planning to give more playing time to the men on the far end of the bench, starting with Paul Larson. So far, Larson hadn’t shown all that much in camp, displaying an inaccurate arm. Consequently, he had received almost no in-game opportunities, but he was going to get a chance tomorrow, sharing time with Babe Parilli. Plenty of other neglected players were going to get their chances, too.
With the Raiders leaving Santa Cruz to head east and play the Bills, today marked the end of team’s first training camp, but bad news accompanied the departure. Head coach Eddie Erdelatz revealed that quarterback Tom Flores was likely to miss the rest of the preseason. The cause was a shoulder injury suffered at the hands of the Chargers on what Erdelatz called a “hit after the whistle.” That meant the signal-calling chores would be performed by Paul Larson, who had thrown but a single pass in live action so far, and newcomer Babe Parilli, who had less than a week’s familiarity with the playbook.
Raider head coach Eddie Erdelatz remained positive about his team after the close loss to the Chargers the previous evening and attributed it to the attitude of his players. “This club right now has as much spirit and hustle as any team I ever had at Annapolis,” he said. “We need help in some spots, but even if we don’t get it, this club will still do okay.”
Attitude was all he had to gauge his players by right now, because Friday night’s fog-obscured game films “looked like two polar bears fighting on an iceberg,” according to the Raider coach.
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 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.