Today in Patriots History
The First Boston Patriots Training Camp
The First Boston Patriots Training Camp
July 4, 1960
The Patriots open their first ever training camp at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
350 players were in attendance that summer.
Left to right: Larry Garron, Patriots' first PR director, Gerry Moore, and Gino Cappelletti.
Photo from a preseason training camp in the 1960s.
New England Patriots History | New England Historical Society
New England Patriots History, or Why There Are Still Giants Fans in New England - New England Historical Society
The first training camp was held at UMass-Amherst. Fullback Larry Garron remembered,
...the turnover in that camp was like a nightmare. You would wake up in the morning and there was a different guy sleeping in the bed next to you than there had been when you went to bed the night before.
There were so many men in training camp Saban couldn’t tell them personally when he cut them. Gino Cappelletti remembered the players would run like hell after practice to the dorm to see if they'd been cut. “A lot of guys who were cut stuck around a few days, eating three square meals and sleeping there."
Patriots' road to success started in ... Amherst (a long time ago) | MassLive.com
Cappelletti still remembers that first UMass camp and the players' arrivals.
"One by one, we all find a dorm room with a bed, he told the Boston Globe in 2016. "But it's late. No sheets, no pillows, just a mattress.''
Cappelletti remembers the early days at UMass fondly, though. Practices were two-a-days (which are banned today), there were film sessions and all three meals each day were held in the mess hall, he told the Globe.
The spartan existence bonded the team. Rookies got the once-over from the veterans. Not unlike military boot camp, the shared experience with sparse amenities created unity among the men.
Players came from all over North America. Some weren't even players but truck drivers, mechanics and others who might have played high school ball but took a chance to be discovered amid the chaos.
There were fans - not the rooting kind but the big, clunky devices with blades that cooled the air. That was UMass' method of summer air conditioning in 1960, the last summer of the Eisenhower Administration and one year before Alan Shepard became the first American in space.
Cappelletti said those inexperienced adventurers didn't make the cut, but they made an impact. He remembered two wrestlers getting involved in a chair-throwing fight over which channel on the sole black-and-white TV would be watched.
Those days seem so long ago - because they are. The 1960 camp occurred 17 years before Tom Brady was born, and by the time the team left the UMass training site for good in 1975, it would be nearly another 27 years before their first Super Bowl title.
Still, there was a charm to those simpler days that Cappelletti appreciates as a nostalgic contrast to today's world of expensive digs, saturation media coverage and million-dollar salaries.
"If the rookies showed up in a car, we'd hide it in the woods or wheel it down to one of the local lakes,'' he told the Globe. "Asked if the cars were wheeled into the lakes, the Patriots legend said "no, but close. Very close."
The Patriots had 350 players attend their first training camp 57 years ago, one that began on July 4 and was part of a two-month preseason.
“Coach Lou Saban will have 12 quarterbacks and eight centers report for physical examination before starting drills.” In all, 350 players eventually attended camp and the roster would ultimately be cut to 33.
The team’s first training camp was initially expected to be held at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, but a switch was made to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. After the first day of practice, on July 4, a cookout was hosted by the town of Amherst as a welcome gesture for everyone at camp.
The first week of camp featured only quarterbacks and centers.
“Like a successful baseball team, our theory is that you must be strong down the middle. We will start with our centers and quarterbacks, then get in the fullbacks later,” Saban said.
Action from the very first regular season AFL game, September 9, 1960 at Nickerson Field.
Denver's Gene Mingo (21) eludes Harry Jacobs (83) on a 76 yard punt return in the third period for the winning score.
The Patriots played their home games on Friday nights at that time to avoid going head-to-head with the NFL on Sunday afternoon.
Joe Johnson (#24) carries for an 8-yard gain as the Patriots defeat the New York Titans 38-21 on November 11, 1960 at Nickerson Field.
Flanker Jim Colclough had six receptions for 85 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Pats to victory.
Patriots vs Dallas Texans, November 18, 1960 at Nickerson Field.
Butch Songin threw three touchdown passes, Jim Colclough had nine catches for 85 yards and a TD, and Joe Johnson had two touchdown receptions.
The 1960 Boston Patriots
Remember the AFL - Boston Patriots
Billy Sullivan Jr., a Boston businessman with a strong sports promotional background, secured an American Football League franchise on November 22, 1959. In keeping with the New England heritage, the nickname "Patriots" was selected by a panel of Boston sports writers in a contest to name the team. The Boston team was involved in two significance "firsts" in 1960. The Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills in the first AFL pre-season game on July 30. On September 9, the Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos 13-10 in the first-ever AFL regular-season game.
During the Patriots' first decade, finding a suitable playing home in the Boston area was almost as urgent as putting a competitive team on the field. The Patriots played at Boston University Field in the 1960 and 1961 and at Harvard in 1962 and again in 1970. From 1963 to 1969, the Patriots played at Fenway Park, the Red Sox baseball stadium.
In spite of their stadium problems, the Patriots were frequent contenders during their AFL days.
Firsts, Records, and Odds and Ends
- First Regular-Season Game:
A 13-10 loss to the Denver Broncos, 9/9/60.
- First Regular-Season Win:
A 28-24 victory over the New York Titans, 9/16/60.
- First Regular-Season Points:
A 35-yard field goal by Gino Cappelletti vs. the Denver Broncos, 9/9/60.
- First Regular-Season Touchdown:
A 10-yard pass from Butch Songin to Jim Colclough vs. the Denver Broncos, 9/9/60.
- First Winning Season:
- First Playoff Appearance:
A 26-8 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the AFL's Eastern Division Championship game, 12/28/63.
- First All-League Selections:
LB Tom Addison and DB Russ O'Hanley, 1960.
- First to Rush 100 Yards in a Game:
Ron Burton, 127 yards vs. the Denver Broncos, 10/23/60.
- First 1,000-Yard Rusher:
Jim Nance, 1,458 yards (1966).
- First to Pass 400 Yards in a Game:
Babe Parilli, 400 yards vs. the Oakland Raiders, 10/16/64.
- All-Time Leading Scorer:
Gino Cappelletti, 1,130 points (1960-70).
- Fewest Yards Rushing Allowed in a Game:
In a 41-0 win over the San Diego Chargers on 12/17/61, the Patriots allowed just two yards rushing.
In the Globe's estimation, Boston's new AFL franchise was on solid financial footing, and the prospects on the field looked good, too.
Royce Womble catches a pass for the Chargers, while Clyde Washington prepares to make the tackle for the Patriots. For many years, the Boston and later New England Patriots sported the beloved Pat Patriot logo on the sides of their helmets. However, AFL
The simple blue logo was the brainchild of Walter J. Pingree, a railroad conductor and former semipro player from Somerville. Upon learning New England was finally getting a pro team, he was so pleased to be rescued from the indignity of rooting for the New York Giants that he set out to design a suitably patriotic helmet.
Scrapping his first attempt—a “76” ringed by stars that he judged too similar to the new Dallas logo—the amateur artist settled on a Revolutionary War soldier’s hat. He submitted the idea to team owner Billy Sullivan in a package that included four slightly different designs (the winner is pictured at right; all are preserved in the archives of the TD Garden’s Sports Museum) and a letter offering free use of them that concluded “you can count on me to root the team on, win, lose, or draw.”
Though Sullivan loved Pingree’s concept and later made him something of an unofficial team member—lifetime season tickets, invites to private team meetings—he decided to switch to Pat Patriot, inspired by a 1959 Globe editorial cartoon, at the close of the first season. Most of the evidence of Pingree’s design disappeared soon after: To avoid buying new helmets, Sullivan had the tricorn logo peeled off and replaced with Pat.
Apparently in a period of time between the end of training camp in Amherst and the beginning of the 1960 regular season, the Patriots practiced in Concord:
The New England Patriots represent the mountaintop of the NFL, but it wasn’t always that way. Long before the five Super Bowl wins, a billionaire