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July 4 in Pats History: The First Training Camp

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jmt57

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Staff member
Today in Patriots History
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."​



“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:
    1961 (9-4-1).
  • 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.





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:

 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member




Couldn't Oakland's artist have at least asked what color the Pats uniforms were?


From the first AFL game, September 9, 1960. Abe Cohen (62), Charley Leo (63) and Bill Brown (54)
clear the way for the Patriot running back. (Walt Livingston? Larry Garron?)



Saturday, Oct 8, 1960 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum:
Boston forces five turnovers to defeat Los Angeles by the score of 35-0
Clyde Washington closes in on Royce Womble after a reception for the Chargers above



 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Today in Patriots History
Hoo-man


Happy 33rd birthday to Michael Hoomanawanui
Born July 4, 1988 in Bloomington, Illinois
Patriot TE, 2012-2015; uniform #47
Signed as a free agent on September 5, 2012

Michael Patrick Hoomanawanui was signed four days before the start of the 2012 season, after two years with St. Louis. He was originally a fifth round pick by the Rams in the 2010 draft, from Illinois. Hooman appeared in 45 regular season games with 28 starts for the Patriots, plus seven games in the postseason. Hoomanawanui is most remembered for his efforts in the divisional round playoff game against Baltimore following the 2014 season. The 6'4, 265 pound tight end lined up in what would normally be the left tackle position - but because he was the outside player on the line of scrimmage, he was an eligible receiver. John Harbaugh went ballistic and failed to respond with either a timeout or proper coaching to his players on how to defend against the formation, on what - despite his protests - was a perfectly legal play.



Jan 10, 2015: Michael Hoomanawanui had four receptions on four targets in the 35-31 victory over Baltimore.
Above is one of the two iconic third quarter plays that gained a total of thirty yards, both good for first downs.


With the benefit of hindsight it was unfortunate that Tom Brady responded to a question about Harbaugh's whining about "illegal" and "deceptive" plays. While TB12's response that the Ravens "should study the rule book" was indeed accurate, it sent Harbaugh over the top - and set the wheels in motion in an attempt to exact revenge by framing the Patriots in the witch hunt that would later become known as deflategate.

Jan 27, 2015:

In more need of a defensive end than a tight end, the Patriots traded Hoomanawanui to New Orleans on September 30, 2015 for Akiem Hicks. The blocking tight end finished his time in Foxborough with 20 receptions for 289 yards and one touchdown while with the Patriots, plus nine more catches for 92 yards in the playoffs. Hooman was on the field for 1,475 regular season snaps with the Patriots, and another 341 on special teams. He spent all of 2018 on IR with the Saints due to a neck injury, and has suffered at least five concussions. Hooman last played in 2017; he spent all of 2016 on IR with a leg injury, and 2018 on IR due to a neck injury.

Jan 9, 2019:

Better late than never, TE Michael Hoomanawanui is finally set to earn his college degree

 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Today in Patriots History
Patriotic Obituaries and Roster Cuts


Happy posthumous birthday to Bob Lee, who would have been 86 today
Born July 4, 1935 in East Prairie, Missouri
Patriot G, 1960; uniform #60
Died March 4, 2017 at the age of 81

Robert E Lee was 25 years old when he tried out for the newly founded Boston Patriots. The lineman from the University of Missouri played in the first eight games of the 1960 season before being cut on November 9, then spent one season in the CFL. After that Bob returned to his native Missouri and worked as a teacher and coach.


Bob Dee, Bob Lee and Bob Fee of the Boston Patriots

The Bobs of Boston | Tales from the AFL

Robert Lee Obituary - Columbia, Missouri

Bob was born July 4, 1935 in East Prairie, Missouri to James Leftwich Lee and Esther Louise Ray. He was raised on the family farm in Southeast Missouri before the family moved to Columbia, Missouri in 1949.​

In 1951, Bob was a starter for the undefeated Hickman High School football team, a feat that would not be repeated by Hickman until 1973, when Bob was serving as an assistant football coach. Bob graduated from Hickman in 1954 where he played football serving as the team’s co-captain, and he also played basketball and participated in track, where he won the state shot put championship in 1954, forty years after his dad won the same title in 1914.​

After graduating from high school, Bob attended the University of Missouri – Columbia, where he played football on athletic scholarship with the Missouri Football Tigers from 1954 to 1957, attaining a bachelor’s degree in secondary physical education in 1959. In 1957, Bob was named “Columbia’s Best College Athlete” by the Downtown Optimist Club and the Columbia Missourian. After graduating from college, Bob played for the NFL’s Boston Patriots in 1960, followed by a stint with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders in 1961. Thereafter, Bob then completed his Master’s Degree at MU and married Marilyn Arnold on August 1, 1964.​




Happy posthumous birthday to Bobby Cross, who would have been 90 today
Born July 4, 1931 in Ranger, Texas
Patriot OT/DT, 1960; uniform #77
Died June 18, 1989 at the age of 57

Robert Joe 'Bobby' Cross spent seven season in the fifties as a starting left tackle for the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Cardinals. Cross was also in the CFL, where he was a Grey Cup champion with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1953. Bobby Cross played in four games for the Pats in 1960, in what turned out to be his final season of pro football.






Happy posthumous birthday to Will Smith, who would have been 40 today
Born July 4, 1981 in Queens, NY
Patriot DE, 2014 off season; uniform #90
Signed as an unrestricted veteran free agent on May 5, 2014
Died April 9, 2016 at the age of 34




Will Smith had been an eight-year starter with New Orleans, but missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL. He had 67.5 sacks for New Orleans, including 13 in 2009 and 10.5 in his Pro Bowl 2006 season. Power hungry Roger Goodell suspended Smith for four games in 2012 in the bounty gate fiasco, a penalty which was overturned on appeal by Paul Tagliabue. The Pats signed Smith in early April of 2014, but he was cut on August 24, inexplicably unable to overcome Zach Moore or Michael Buchanon for a roster spot. Smith was shot and killed in the aftermath of an argument following a fender bender, tragically dead before his 35th birthday.

Aug 1, 2014:




Dec 12, 2012:

Dec 12, 2016:

Jan 11, 2021:




Happy 35th birthday to Terrance Knighton
Born July 4, 1986 in Hartford
Patriot DT, 2016 off season; uniform #96
Signed as a free agent on March 31, 2016

Terrance 'Pot Roast' Knighton is a New England native, having grown up in Windsor CT. He played in 108 games for Jacksonville, Washington and Denver from 2009 to 2015. The Pats signed the free agent to a one-year, $4.5 million contract three weeks after the onset of free agency.

At the time it was envisioned that the Patriots would have a powerful rotation of Knighton, Malcom Brown and Alan Branch that could keep all three fresh and productive. Knighton struggled a bit in the Pats second preseason game, and after not playing a single down in the third game the writing was on the wall.




Considering that Anthony Johnson made the initial roster over Knighton, I can't help but wonder if the size of the contract had something to do with the decision, or if it was all about inability to adapt to a two-gap defense. After not playing at all in 2016, Knighton officially retired in 2017.

June 10, 2015:

Aug 29, 2016:

Aug 29, 2016:




Other 4th of July pro football players with New England area connections:

- Floyd Little (1942-2021); born and raised in New Haven, the Hall of Fame running back went to five Pro Bowls, scored 52 touchdowns and totaled 8,741 yards from scrimmage with Denver from 1967-1975.

- Red O'Neill (1898-1955); the UConn Huskie grad played center for the Hartford Blues in 1926, and later had a prominent career in medicine. The Red O'Neill Award is given annually to a former UConn student-athlete who has gone on to distinguish him/herself in his/her chosen career.

- Lou Daukas (1921-2005); this Nashua native was a co-captain at Cornell, and played center and linebacker for Brooklyn after returning from WWII.



In addition to Floyd Little, some other notable pro football players born on the 4th:

- La'Roi Glover, 47 (7/4/74); DT went to six consecutive Pro Bowls from 2000 to 2005 with the Saints and Cowboys; he is now the defensive line coach for the Chargers.

- Erich Barnes, 86 (7/4/35); six-time Pro Bowl corner for the Giants and Browns had 45 career interceptions.

- Rick Casares (1931-2013); this bruising fullback was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first five seasons, and led the NFL in rushing in 1956.

- Emerson Boozer, 78 (7/4/43); Jet running back led the AFL in touchdowns in rushing touchdowns in 1967, and the NFL in total touchdowns in 1972.

- Josh McCown, 42 (7/4/79); journeyman QB with a penchant of signing with bad teams (Raiders, Browns, Bucs, Jets) had a 23-53 starting record over 16 NFL seasons.

- Todd Marinovich, 52 (7/4/69); former Raider QB is Exhibit A of the perils that happen to the children of overzealous sports parents.
 


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