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.
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.
Raider quarterback hopeful Tom Flores continued to make a strong push for the starting job in a morning scrimmage today. The former Pacific Tiger dispelled doubts about his once-injured throwing shoulder by hitting on a couple of long touchdowns, one each to Eddie Macon, who was trying his hand on offense, and to Tony Teresa, who made a tough catch in traffic.
Head coach Eddie Erdelatz was impressed. “The team gets better with each workout and is still on the upgrade,” he said. “Flores is calling the plays well and knows what to do in most situations.”
Aside from the scrimmage, the team put an emphasis on the kicking game. Linebacker Larry Barnes continued to improve as a placekicker, connecting on an extra point and a 32 yard field goal.
After practice, Erdelatz and his staff hopped aboard a plane bound for Los Angeles, where they would scout the Chargers in advance of their preseason contest next weekend in Sacramento.
Seven months, almost to the day, following the awarding of a franchise to Oakland, the Raiders assembled to play their first game, against the Dallas Texans at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.
The day dawned chilly and windy, with a drizzling rain that fell all morning. As game time approached, the rain stopped and the temperature climbed into the mid-60s, but the weather was still raw for the Bay Area in July, and as the stands filled, it was clear the team was not going to reach their attendance goals. By the 1:30pm kickoff, just 12,000 or so showed up to watch (later corrected to 10,882).
Now that two-a-days were done the players had time to indulge in a little team promotion. With an afternoon practice scheduled, the Raiders bused from Santa Cruz to Jack London Square in Oakland to participate in a “Welcome Raiders” parade. The front office expressed satisfaction with their local popularity in general and said tickets for the Texans game, a benefit for the Children’s Hospital of the Eastbay, were selling briskly with more than 20,000 already sold, according to PR man Gene Perry.
Head coach Eddie Erdelatz said the team appeared to have been inspired by the event and looked particularly crisp and spirited during their workout. Only non-contact blocking and tackling drills were performed, as the coaches hoped to prevent further injuries before the game.
Their hopes weren’t realized, though. Middle linebacker Tom Louderback, who was practicing with a bruised shoulder, exacerbated the injury and was pronounced doubtful for the upcoming contest. On the other hand, the Raider quarterback picture brightened immeasurably when Tom Flores was able to return to practice following treatment of his pulled calf muscle and third-stringer Bob Webb was seen on the field as well.
Looking ahead, the team provided a provisional depth chart for the game that included few surprises, aside from the absence of Flores and Webb. On the offense, Chris Plain and Don Churchwell were at tackle, Lou Byrd and Ron Sabal were at guard, and Jim Otto was at center. At the ends were Alan Goldstein and Gene Prebola. In the backfield behind Paul Larson were Buddy Allen, Tony Teresa, and Billy Lott.
On defense, the front four consisted of Carmen Cavalli and George Fields at the ends, Joe Barbee and Ramon Armstrong on the inside, Louderback at middle linebacker, flanked by Billy Ray Locklin and Bob Dougherty. In the defensive backfield were Joe Cannavino, Alex Bravo, Eddie Macon, and LC Joyner. Larry Barnes was the placekicker, while the punting job was up for grabs among Barnes, Wayne Crow, and Bob Fails.
Fully a week into training camp, the Raiders held their first scrimmage and head coach Eddie Erdelatz was cautiously pleased. “For the first time out it wasn’t too bad,” he said. At quarterback, Paul Larson looked a sharper than Tom Flores, completing 11 of 21 passes with many of the incompletions coming from receiver drops. Flores had a rougher time, connecting on just 5 of 14, throwing three interceptions. Third-stringer Bob Webb got off to a good start, connecting on the longest play of the day, an 18-yard pass to Charlie Hardy, but disaster struck when he went down with a knee injury. Trainer George Anderson said he may have torn cartilage and could need surgery, which would shut him down for the year. At other positions, tight end Gene Prebola, defensive end Carmen Cavalli, and cornerback Eddie Macon looked particularly good. Observers thought the defensive line played well as a group, but Erdelatz downplayed it, saying, “The defense is always ahead of the offense at this stage of the game.”
Once the scrimmage was over, it was time for another round of cuts, reducing the number of players in camp to 56. On their way out were tackle Cloyd Boyette, halfback Purcell Daniels, halfback Wes Fry, Jr., son of Raider player personnel director Wes Fry, Sr., tackle Willie Hudson, a former honorable mention AP Little All-American for Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, who was in camp without a contract after getting cut by the Chargers, and Hudson’s former college teammate, tackle Rich Max.
Long Beach Press Telegram
After a day’s rest, the squad returned to practice to find a newcomer in their ranks. Tom Louderback, a 6’2″, 230-pound guard/linebacker out of San Jose State. A two-year starter for the Spartans, Louderback made second-team UPI All-Coast in 1954. He was picked in the tenth round by the Redskins in 1955, but didn’t make it out of training camp and spent the rest of the year with Hamilton in the Canadian leagues. He signed with the Browns a year later, but joined the US Navy before the season. Mustering out in 1958, Cleveland cut him in September, after which he earned a starting linebacker spot with the Eagles, where he spent the next two seasons. He was now in Oakland to try his hand with the new league.
Meanwhile, two more players left camp. Citing personal reasons, backs Marv Lasater and George Blanch packed their bags and departed. The Raiders had had high hopes for Lasater, offering him a nice bonus to sign, but once in camp his lack of speed seemed to doom his chances to stick. Blanch had been installed on the third team and probably got out the door just before the headsman arrived.
On the field, head coach Eddie Erdelatz continued to push his charges hard and was very pleased with what he saw. “If they keep coming at this rate,” he said, “we’re going to fool a few teams.” Erdelatz was generous in his praise for members of the offensive line including tackle Chris Plain, guards Don Manoukian and Ron Sabal, and center Jim Otto. Defensive secondary members Alex Bravo, John Brown, LC Joyner, Eddie Macon, and Tony Teresa, were also mentioned by name as were receiver Charlie Hardy and defensive end Carmen Cavalli.
Over in sick bay, Charley Powell‘s strained Achilles tendon had healed enough to allow him to practice, but linebacker Buddy Alliston had pulled a groin muscle and took Powell’s place on the bench to recuperate.
Eureka Humboldt Standard
Hayward Daily Review
Long Beach Independent
Long Beach Press Telegram
Lubbock Morning Avalanche
Ukiah Daily Journal
Faced with an overwhelming number of hopefuls, the Raider coaching staff ran the players through a number of tests and drills, such as a timed 50-yard dash, and used the grades to make a first round of cuts. Sixteen players got the axe (counting three who left camp voluntarily), including the supremely confident Sandy Lederman, and George Washington’s Ed Hino, who was thought to be a leading contender for the quarterback position early on. The complete list is below.
At the quarterback spot, Tom Flores and Paul Larson appeared to be leading the field. Head coach Eddie Erdelatz said Tony Teresa, a fine two-way quarterback with San Jose State, would be playing halfback. Also garnering early praise from the coaches were halfback Billy Lott, defensive back Eddie Macon, linemen Chris Plain, Don Manoukian, and Don Churchwell, and ends Gene Prebola and Charlie Hardy.
The first crack at a possible starting lineup on offense was:
Over in the trainer’s corner, Wayne Crow, the first training camp casuality, appeared to have recovered from his ankle injury and was expected to return to camp almost immediately. However, five other players were sent to sick bay with ailments of their own, including end Walt Denny (hamstring pull), halfback Jack Larscheid (hamstring pull), tackle Fred Fehn (unidentified muscle pull), defensive end Charley Powell (strained Achilles tendon), and tackle Jim Woodard (strained right knee). Fehn was expected to be out the longest, at two weeks. The other four were expected to miss no more than a few days.
T Charles Bates
LB Tom Davis (voluntary)
HB Al Feola
HB Max Fields
HB James Hall
QB Ed Hino
HB Vin Hogan (voluntary)
T Curt Iaukea (voluntary)
HB Stan Jones
E Joe Kominski
QB Sandy Lederman
E Mose Mastelotto
QB Ron Newhouse
HB Andrew Pierce
E Gordon Tovani
E Willis Towne
The Raiders announced the signing of 5’11”, 187-pound halfback Eddie Macon. A star footballer and track-and-field sprinter at College of the Pacific, he was selected by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 1952 draft. Macon spent two seasons with the Bears, playing mostly on offense, gaining 324 yards rushing as part of the team’s backfield committee. He also played extensively in the return game, scoring on an 89-yard kickoff return his rookie season. Following his NFL work, he went to Canada where he played parts of several seasons with Calgary and Hamilton, appearing on both offense and defense.
Hayward Daily Review