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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Houston owner Bud Adams announced that his team would be called the Oilers and that he had four candidates for head coach: Oklahoma’s Bud Wilkinson, Iowa’s Forest Evashevski, former Baylor coach George Sauer, and Sammy Baugh, now coaching Hardin-Simmons.
The AFL completed a two-day meeting of team owners during with they discussed a variety of topics. Barron Hilton confirmed that he had offered a contract for the head coaching spot to Eddie Erdelatz and had approached former Notre Dame head coach Frank Leahy to be the general manager. Bud Adams of Houston said he had talked with a pair of men, former Washington Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh and current Navy coach George Sauer, about coaching his team.
Lamar Hunt announced the league’s intention to field eight teams playing a 14-game home-and-home round robin schedule. He added that the field of potential cities for the two remaining spots had been winnowed to Buffalo, Kansas City, Louisville, Miami, San Diego, and San Francisco. Observers believed that at least one of the two California cities had an inside track, as Hilton was lobbying hard to get another West Coast team to pair with his in Los Angeles.
New York owner Harry Wismer announced that he had put together a deal for his team to play in the Polo Grounds.