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Replay

A 1960 prediction on the new Patriots venture: ‘It will be a prosperous one’

Larry Garron (left) and Gino Cappelletti flank the Patriots first PR man, Gerry Moore, at a preseason training camp in the early 1960s.Cappelletti Family Collection

Editor’s note: The Globe is reaching into its archives to bring you “Replay,” articles from the past that highlight something interesting, timely, or revealing. This story by John Ahern on the new pro football team in town, the Patriots, appeared on Sunday, Sept. 4, 1960, under the headline “Hub’s Fifth Pro Grid Venture Opens Friday.”

In China, where they name them, this would be the Year of the Bold Venture.

The new government center, New England Mutual’s expansion plans, the West End redevelopment and the Patriots — especially the Patriots — the boldest venture of them all.

Four times professional football has been tried in our town. Four times it folded. Huge sums were lost and Boston was consigned to the sticks, the limbo of broken football dreams.

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Friday night at Boston University (old Braves) Field the town’s fifth pro venture breathes new life. It’s as welcome as the flowers in May and it will be greeted enthusiastically by a populace that has not seen good football since Boston College’s Sugar Bowl team of 20 years back.

All the dignitaries will be there and so will the rest, many lured in by promotional work of the team itself, the Chamber of Commerce and other groups interested in selling Boston.

It will be a great show and the ending should be satisfactory. Denver is the opposition, and at Providence a month back Boston whomped the Broncs, 43 to 6. It should be a gala start. But will they love ’em In December as they love ’em this week? And will the questions that can’t be answered now, be answered then?

“Can they go financially?” That’s one of the big ones being asked everywhere. “Can they weather the storm?” That one has a double connotation — finances and weather. That last bit rears its head in November when four night games are scheduled.

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We’re Going to Make It

The 1960 Boston Patriots before their first game at Nickerson Field.not Globe Staff Photo by Stan Gr

“If we get the breaks in November we can make it financially this year,” Danny Marr, one of the 10 owners, claimed. “If we get three good nights, I’m sure we’ll break even. If not, we’ll catch up next year. But we’re going to make it.”

Fielding a pro team is no small project. Total cost — or nut as they say in boxing — figures to be in excess of $1,050,000, with salaries, training expenses, operating expenses, uniforms, personnel and the 1,001 items that go into fielding a team.

Salaries alone — including executives, office help, clubhouse boys, ushers, trainers, etc. — come close to half a million. More than $300,000 has been spent on Braves Field and that comes under the heading of rent for three years.

Uniforms for players, ushers, attendants cost about $10,000. Promotional costs run even higher.

Figures like that chilled the hot enthusiasm of brave men like Sheldon Fairbanks, Ted Collins and George Preston Marshall. And when patrons refused to patronize, preferring to pledge allegiance to college teams, they fled while they still had some sanity, if very little money.

TV Money Big Help

Former Patriots broadcaster Gino Capelletti played in the first Boston Patriots game in September 1960.Suzanne Kreiter

Panic will not set in here. This is a new era with its appurtenances. And the big addition to the world of sport is television and the money accruing from the big tube.

“We have received $225,000 from the television package,” Gen. Mgr. Ed McKeever explained. “The deal was made with the league and each club got one-eighth. It is a wonderful help to all clubs.”

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In line with the boast that Boston would be different was the unheard-of in sports — stock transaction. The public was offered non-voting stock at $5 per share. The underwriters paid the club the day the stock went on sale. The Patriots’ share was $540,000. An additional $10,000 was received for the radio rights.

So the worry warts may calm down. As it stands the Patriots are two-thirds of the way home now.

The field is on the small side for pro ball, seating only 27,000. Today the season ticket sale was close to 6,100 — and that is really good for an untested product.

The football is really good, too, although there are critics who won’t be sold until they’ve had the chance to study over a long period.

Five times this summer the Patriots played exhibition games. They won four and lost one. That loss lowered a few raised eyebrows. Always present is the element that looks for the fix. “They’ll make ’em look good at home,” one wise guy muttered. This has been done in exhibition games in other sports to boost the gate sale.

No Taint on A.F.L.

Lou Saban was the Boston Patriots' first coach. He coached the team for two seasons.Handout/The Boston Globe - The Boston Gl

There is no taint on the American Football League. Boston went into Buffalo, which is just getting off the ground again after one venture, and won. Boston, in its only home show, lost to Dallas at Harvard Stadium. Oakland, New York, Denver and Houston also lost at home. Bad thoughts can die here, now.

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The Patriots have an interesting team with a lot of local boys starring. Butch Songin (B.C.) and Tommy Greene (Holy Cross) are fine quarterbacks. Jimmy Colclough (B.C.) is a spectacular pass-catching end. Alan Miller (B.C.) has made it as a running back. Ross O’Hanley (B.C.) is a good defensive back. Mike Long (Brandeis) is a great pass-catching flanker. It won’t be long before the natives know the names Ron Burton, Jim Crawford, John Thomas, Tommy Stephens, Jack Rudolph, Fred Bruney, Tony Sardisco and Chuck Shonta. They are football players; good ones.

Young Lou Saban and his young staff have worked wonders putting a team together. Ed McKeever and Gerry Moore have done a great organizational job. The owners — Daniel Marr, Joseph Sullivan, Dean Boylan, John Ames, George Sargent, to name a few — are substantial men interested in sport and in Boston. Theirs was the bold venture. It will be a prosperous one.