It was hot and sweaty, there was next to nobody watching, and the Raiders were on short rest twice over. But for a half it didn’t matter. With the temperature creeping up toward the high 80s, just 3,500 locals turned out in the early afternoon sun to see the Pats host Oakland at University of Massachusetts Stadium.
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.
American Football League commissioner Joe Foss was in town today to visit the Raiders’ training camp in Santa Cruz. Upon inspection, he said the facilities were on par with what he had seen during his visits to other teams. He was also satisfied with the team’s season ticket sales, saying the reported sale of 8,500 was in line with other teams: well behind the Chargers at 18,000, but far ahead of the tail-enders like the Texans.
In player news, further examination of third-string quarterback Bob Webb’s knee revealed that the injury was not as severe as originally thought. Initial reports suggested he had torn cartilage and would need surgery, but now the team thought he could be back at practice in a week.
Meanwhile, head coach Eddie Erdelatz was still moving pieces around on the depth chart. With Marv Lasater gone, Erdelatz moved LC Joyner up to take his place. Newly-signed Tom Louderback was shifted into the starting middle linebacker spot formerly occupied by Larry Barnes. Barnes would now put in his work at left defensive end. On offense, Erdelatz moved second-teamer Brad Myers from halfback to fullback.
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.
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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 team announced that co-owner and restaurateur Harvey Binns was getting out of the football business by selling his interest in the Raiders back to the remaining seven owners. Binns said he was not happy with the way Chet Soda was dominating football operations. “When we named Soda general manager it was to be a temporary thing until we hired a man with professional football experience,” he explained, “but now he doesn’t want to step down. The club needs someone with a pro background in that spot.”
Soda’s response: “The owners are sincerely regretful that personal reasons require Mr. Binns to sever his interest in the football club. His enthusiasm and support was a great help to the new venture.”
High-level squabbling aside, the Raiders continued to build a roster, announcing the signing of University of California halfback Wayne Crow, whose stellar play helped the Bears get to the 1959 Rose Bowl against Iowa. Crow, who had just completed his junior year at Berkeley decided to go pro to support his wife and young child and had been chosen by the Cardinals in the eighth round of the NFL draft. Soda said the Crow signing was an unusual situation and that the team had no plans to sign other underclassmen. Part of Crow’s contract included money to be set aside for tuition for his senior year. New California head coach Marv Levy praised the Raiders for their handling of the situation, pointing out that Soda had tried to discourage Crow from leaving school. A two-way player for the Bears, he had led the team in both passing and interceptions in 1959.
And, for the first time, the Oakland Tribune printed a complete roster of Raider signees. A total of 54 players were listed (see link below), with 24 names not mentioned in previous reports:
Bill Atkins, a 6’1″, 220-pound guard from San Jose State. A 25th-round draft pick of the Rams in 1958, he did not make the regular season roster.
Charles Bates, a 6’4, 245-pound tackle from Alabama A&M. He spent training camp time with both Chicago teams: the Cardinals in 1956 and the Bears in 1959.
Lou Byrd, a 6’1″, 220-pound guard/linebacker from USC. A two-year letterman for the Trojans, he was awarded the 1958 Marv Goux Award by the school for his outstanding performance against UCLA his senior year. He was not drafted by an NFL team.
Roch Conklin, a 6’1″, 215-pound center from Stanford. After missing the 1957 season because of injury, he returned to have a fine senior season for the Indians, tying for the team lead in interceptions and making an appearance in the East-West Shrine Game. He had no pro experience.
Don Deskins, a 6’2″, 240-pound tackle from Michigan. A former Marine, Deskins was in his mid-20s when he started his college football career with the Wolverines. He was picked by Minneapolis in the AFL draft, with his signing rights eventually falling to the Raiders.
Al Feola, a 6’0″, 185-pound halfback from Pepperdine. A three-year letterman for the Waves, he had not played in either the NFL or the Canadian leagues following his senior year of 1956.
George Fields, a 6’3″, 245-pound lineman/linebacker from Bakersfield College. Fields started out as a fullback for the Renegades, but following knee surgery in 1955, moved to end, playing both ways as a pass catcher and pass rusher. He later put in time with the Bakersfield Spoilers of the Pacific Football Conference.
Wes Fry, a 6’1″, 215-pound center from UC Davis. He was named to the Far Western All-Conference team for his play with the Aggies in 1959.
Alex Gardner, a 5’9″, 185-pound halfback from South Carolina State. He was named NAIA All-America Honorable Mention in 1957.
Carl Gordon, a 5’9″, 173-pound quarterback/halfback from Bakersfield College. An all-around talent for the Renegades, he was named a Junior College All-American in 1954. He, like his teammate Fields, played for a time with the Spoilers.
James Hall, a 5’10”, 180-pound halfback from Mississippi. Part of a very deep Rebels backfield from 1957-1959, he was a significant receiving threat as the team enjoyed three consecutive bowl wins during his tenure.
Vin Hogan, a 6’0″, 190-pound back from Boston College. A nimble halfback and a three-year letterman for the Eagles, he won the Edward O’Melia Award in 1959 for outstanding player in the annual Boston College-Holy Cross game.
Clark Holden, a 5’11”, 210-pound fullback from USC. Originally drafted by Dallas, he tied a Trojans record in 1959 with four rushing touchdowns against Stanford.
Brad Hustad, a 5’9″, 190-pound halfback from Luther. A three-year All-Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference performer with the Norse, Hustad led the nation in rushing his sophomore season with 1,401 yards, and by the end of his college career in 1959, held the national career record with 3,943 yards on the ground.
Stan Jones, a 6’0″, 210-pound fullback from Maryland State. Not to be confused with the University of Maryland and Chicago Bear lineman of the same name, Jones scored twice to lead the Hawks to victory over North Carolina A&T in the 1954 Fish Bowl.
LC Joyner, a 6’0″, 180-pound back from Diablo Valley College. A three-sport star with the Vikings, he set a conference scoring record in 1952. He was drafted by the 49ers in the 21st round of the 1956 draft, but had not played in a regular season game in the NFL.
Charlie Kaaihue, a 5’11”, 235-pound guard from San Jose State. He was signed as a free agent in 1958 by the Eagles, but had no regular season appearances.
Joe Kominski, a 6’5″, 223-pound tackle from Central Washington State. An excellent rebounder for the Wildcats basketball squad, he was a standout on the gridiron as well, making the All-Evergreen Conference team as an end in both 1956 and 1957.
Jack Larscheid, a 5’6″, 162-pound back from Pacific. Invariably referred to as the “little sparkplug” or the like, he mostly played second fiddle to teammate Dick Bass, but closed his college career in spectacular fashion, gaining 119 yards rushing on 14 carries, and nabbing two interceptions in the Tigers’ 52-6 win over Fresno State in the final game of the 1959 season.
Rich Max, a 6’1″, 235-pound center from Cal Poly. He was named to the Little All-America team while with the Mustangs.
Ron Newhouse, a 6’1″, 195-pound quarterback/halfback from St Norbert. A fine runner and passer with the Green Knights, he was named Little All-America Honorable Mention in 1958.
Andrew Pierce, a 6’1″, 210-pound fullback from Southern
Louis Plain, a 6’3″, 265-pound tackle from Stanford
Willis Towne, a 6’4″, 220-pound end from Wichita State (see note)
Boston College football media guide
California State Polytechnic College El Mustang
Diablo Valley College Hall of Fame Yearbook
Luther College Athletics
National Junior College Athletic Association football media guide
San Jose State football media guide
Santa Monica City College Corsair
South Carolina State football media guide
Stanford University football media guide
University of Michigan football media guide
University of California-Davis football media guide
University of Southern California football media guide
Note: The Tribune identified Towne as having played his college ball at UC Davis, and there was a Willis Towne at that school, but that Towne played for them in the early 1930s. However, there was also a Willis Towne who played in the 1950s for the Shockers and was drafted in 1956 by the Chicago Cardinals. The age listed in the paper is about right for that timeline and the most reasonable explanation is that someone with the Raiders or with the Tribune simply made an error in fact-checking.