The 1960 Championship Season, Part 1

“Birthpains”

By ED WETTERMAN

“In 1959, the newly hatched American Football League and Houston franchise were entangled in birth pains, not the least of which was contriving a name for Bud Adams’ squad.

In October, Adams announced that he would name the team the Oilers for “sentimental and social reasons,” reportedly in large part to honor his father, who had been chairman of Phillips Petroleum.

Original prototype for Oilers helmets

For a color scheme, Adams decided on Columbia Blue and White.

Though it would soon be modified, the first design of the Oilers soon-to-be-famous derrick logo was illustrated with oil gushing from the top.

Adams needed a stadium for Oilers games, but Rice University refused to allow him to use theirs, so he chose the stadium of Jeppeson High School.

Jeppesen Stadium was originally constructed in 1941 as a joint project of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal agency created by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

Jeppesen Stadium, 1950

Adams’ upgrades would expand the stadium’s seating capacity to over 36,000, and the Oilers would call Jeppesen Stadium home four four seasons.

In his book Oiler Blues, John Pirkle called Jeppeson Stadium “an open sewer,” and stated that “the moldy old arena had one constant–the smell of urine.”

As for the quality of the playing surface, one lineman lost a shoe in the deep mud. The shoe was never found.

During the Oilers’ 1960 training camp, Pirkle noted that “[it] rained like hell for several days” before the “humidity and mosquitoes stormed in….Conditions were deplorable. There was no air-conditioning. The locker rooms flooded every time it rained. It stank. Giant cockroaches were everywhere.

“Players alternately passed out from the heat and the stink. The Oilers sprayed jerseys with ammonia to keep from fainting, but the remedy backfired as the potent combination of ammonia, sweat and insect repellent felled even the strongest man.”

Adams hired Rice basketball coach Don Suman to be the Oilers’ first general manager, but in a more critical and brilliant move, he tabbed John Breen as director of player personnel. Breen had been a noted scout with the Chicago Cardinals and a great evaluator of talent.

Breen lasted 17 years in the Oiler organization, and he garnered talent that would win two of three championship games.

UP NEXT – The 1960 Season, Part 2: The Cannon Caper

UP NEXT – The 1960 Season, Part 3: The First Head Coach & Roster

UP NEXT – The 1960 Season, Part 4: The First Season

UP NEXT – The 1960 Season, Part 5: The First Championship Game

Ed Wetterman is a native Houstonian and lifelong Oiler fan/historian. He is a teacher, genealogist, game creator, and writer who lived and died on Sundays with the Oilers. Ed has created many games such as “East Texas University: Degrees of Horror” and written short stories such as “HellFighter,” published by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Football has always been one of his greatest passions. He experienced the highs and the lows of being an Oiler fan, and like many others, he was crushed when the Oilers left Houston. Writing for Miss Ya Blue! gives him an outlet for his Columbia Blue love.

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