September 15, 1960

Talk about the Raiders continued to center around their financial health. Specifically, whether they could draw enough fans to stay solvent and stay in the Bay Area, or even the league. Chet Soda gave voice to the issue. “I’m a bit concerned over our attendance and income,” he said, “We hoped to do better. Maybe things will improve. All we can do is hope.”

The coaching staff believed things had improved on the field with the recent roster additions, most notably, Al Hoisington and Paul Oglesby. Eddie Erdelatz said Oglesby, a tackle replacing Don Churchwell, “has fine moves and I’m sure he will help us.”

Hoisington, a flanker, noted for his speed and size, had performed well in Texans camp, showing a knack for losing defenders in coverage, and had looked good in his first Raider practice as well.

Assistant coach Ernie Jorge was encouraged by what he’d seen from the whole team during their short week of practice following their disappointing loss to the Oilers. “We think we have things patched up,” he said, “and while we realize that Dallas is as tough as anybody in the league, we’ll make a lot better showing this week than last.”

Those same Texans had arrived in town for Friday night’s game looking to avenge a loss of their own, a discouraging 21-20 loss to the Chargers. They had led at the half, 20-7, but much like the Raiders, second half mistakes and missed opportunities had doomed their efforts.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Mateo Times

September 14, 1960

Following a flurry of personnel moves and hand-wringing over low attendance figures, there were rumors of dissension among the Raider ownership group. This wasn’t the first time such news had reached the public. In April, restaurateur Harvey Binns sold his share of the team, citing differences of opinion with his fellow owners.

One of the current owners, general manager Chet Soda, was quick to dispute the reports. “These stories can be summed up in one word: ‘ridiculous’,” he said.

Saying that recent meetings were held merely to talk about the roster and administrative details, Soda explained, “After all, this was the first time we’ve had a chance to talk with the coach in nine weeks at a regular meeting. There was a lot to talk over.”

Oakland Tribune

September 13, 1960

Two days out from the loss to the Oilers, the Raiders made a number of personnel moves. Four players were cut, including tackle Joe Barbee, halfback Luther Carr, tackle Don Churchwell, and quarterback Paul Larson. Read more “September 13, 1960”

September 12, 1960

With a short week to prepare for Friday night’s game against the Texans, Eddie Erdelatz decided to give his players a day off to recover from the opener. Practice would resume on Tuesday with an emphasis on shoring up the problems in the defensive secondary exposed by the Oilers’ passing attack.

Off the field, the big worry was about low attendance figures. The figure of under 13,000 was significantly lower than that expected by the front office and reflected a trend that had begun with the first preseason game.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Mateo Times

September 11, 1960

The glad day had finally arrived. A crowd of 12,703 fans came to Kezar Stadium to watch the Raiders host the Houston Oilers, a team coached by old Cleveland Browns warhorse Lou Rymkus and led on the field by quarterback George Blanda, a veteran of ten campaigns with the Chicago Bears. The weather was fine, if windy, and after long months of preparation and sweat, the locals in black were ready to embark on their big adventure. Read more “September 11, 1960”

September 9, 1960

Eddie Erdelatz named his starting offense today. As mentioned a couple of days ago, Tom Flores would start at quarterback. Joining him in the backfield would be Jack Larscheid, Billy Lott, and Tony Teresa, who would man the flanker spot. On the ends would be Charlie Hardy and Gene Prebola. Ron Sabal and Dalton Truax were to start at the tackles, with Don Manoukian and Wayne Hawkins at guard, and Jim Otto in the middle.

On the practice field, the team ran through their last workout before the game and the next time they put on pads they would be facing the Houston Oilers to get the whole shooting match underway.

Hayward Daily Review
San Mateo Times

September 8, 1960

The Raiders made more personnel moves today. In a continuing effort to upgrade their lines, the team signed¬†Glenn Holtzman,¬†Paul Oglesby, and Riley Morris. Holtzman, a 6’3″, 250-pound defensive end out of North Texas State had been drafted by the Rams in 1954 in the 26th round and spent four years in Los Angeles, one of them as a starter. After the Rams traded him, along with six other players and a pair of draft picks, to the Cardinals in exchange for Ollie Matson, Holtzman refused to report to Chicago and pursued careers in acting and professional wrestling instead. Sid Gillman had tabbed him a few months ago to play for the Chargers, but cut him earlier this week, giving the Raiders a chance to pick him up.

Oglesby, a 6’4″, 235-pound tackle from UCLA had been drafted by both the Cardinals and the Oilers and went with Houston. He was plagued by minor ailments in camp, and the Oilers eventually gave up on him and let him go.

Morris, a 6’2″, 220-pound linebacker out of Florida A&M had been released by the Oilers the same day as Oglesby and picked up by Oakland at the same time. Oglesby was added to the active roster right away, but the team was waiting for Holtzman and Morris to report in person before adding them.

To make room on the roster, the Raiders released halfback Buddy Allen. Allen, who scored the first points in franchise history, had looked good early on, but found his playing time reduced as the preseason unfolded and he became a forgotten man as Jack Larscheid and Billy Lott got more attention. Unofficially, Allen ended the preseason with 81 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. He also caught five passes for 32 yards. Allen’s departure left just Lott, Larscheid, JD Smith, and Tony Teresa, and Luther Carr in the offensive backfield.

While these moves were going on, Coach Erdelatz continued to prepare for Sunday’s game by naming team captains. On offense the captain would be Tom Flores. A member of the squad since early June, Flores had been the front-runner for the starting quarterback position almost from his arrival and was a clear choice. On defense the captain would be linebacker Bob Dougherty. Dougherty was one of the players chosen in the AFL’s allocation draft back in the spring and had stood out for his exemplary play in the preseason.

On the public relations front, today was the day for the big parade in Oakland. A 4:30pm departure from Jack London Square saw the players and other team officials convoy in convertibles on the half-hour long route to a park next to Lake Merritt with fanfare, autographs, and pictures to follow.

Hayward Daily Review
North Texas University football media guide
Oakland Tribune
Pro Football Reference
San Mateo Times
UCLA football media guide

September 7, 1960

The team announced today that Tom Flores would start at quarterback against the Oilers on Sunday. Flores had sat out the final two exhibition games because of an injury he suffered against the Chargers, but the Raider training staff pronounced him fit for duty again, pushing Babe Parilli back to reserve duty.

Flores and the rest of the squad would be joined on the field by a new recruit. The Raiders signed 6’4″, 260-pound defensive tackle Ron Warzeka. A three-time All-Rocky Mountain Conference performer at Montana State, Warzeka was named to the second-team Little All-America team while with the Bobcats in 1955 and was drafted in the 14th round by the 49ers in 1957. The Niners cut him just before the start of the regular season and Warzeka spent the next two years in the military, playing at least one year for the Fort Meade club in Maryland. San Francisco re-signed him late in 1959, but had cut him again shortly before the Raiders picked him up.

Eddie Erdelatz was happy to get another big body on the defensive line. “Warzeka has the real good attitude,” he said, “and with his size he should help us once he becomes familiar with our system.”

With the regular season just four days away, the Tribune published a special section of the paper devoted to the Raiders and the AFL and included an unattributed story titled “The Raider Spirit.”1 The piece discussed, at length, Erdelatz’s coaching philosophy and how it influenced the players.

Erdelatz had been thought of as a topnotch motivator while coaching at the Naval Academy and he had brought the same skills to bear here in Oakland. Players and coaches alike were expected to give full effort at all times and show a hustling spirit. The staff put together practices that were meticulously organized and players could count on Erdelatz sticking to his word, once given. The Raider coach was serious about preparation, but he was no stoic. “It has to be fun for the players, for my assistants, and for myself,” he said, then elaborated, “We want to win every game, exhibition or league, because then the game becomes more fun. Thinking of football in a fun sense doesn’t mean you don’t put out or don’t care about the outcome. It means playing hard and playing to win, because that, after all, is what makes a great game.”

And so far, players like Joe Cannavino were buying in. “I’ve played for Woody Hayes at Ohio State, Weeb Ewbank of the Baltimore Colts, and Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns,” he said, “and none can put ball players at ease like Coach Erdelatz. He tells us the game will be fun, so we go into it expecting to have a good time, and we do.”

Montana State University football media guide
Oakland Tribune

1. The author was probably Scotty Stirling, but no byline was included.

 

September 6, 1960: View from the Future

It’s a truism and probably a truth that we can’t tell much about football teams from their preseason performances, but it might have been a little less true for the AFL in 1960. With every team consisting of players who, in almost all cases, had never played together before, for coaches they’d never played for, there was plenty of uncertainty, and lots of incentive to find out just what they had before competing for keeps. Eddie Erdelatz, just as an example, said explicitly that he was playing to win and there’s no reason not to think that at least some of the other coaches felt the same way. It sure looked like Hank Stram and Sid Gillman felt that way. The Texans and the Chargers had gone undefeated in the preseason, affirming a sense among league observers, developed before the exhibition schedule began, that they, along with the Oilers were the class of the league. The jury was still out on Houston, though. At 2-3, they were no better than the Raiders at this point. The surprise was Boston at 4-1. No one expected much from them going in, so it would be interesting to see if they could translate their success into the regular season. Also-rans were the Bills and Titans at 1-4 and the Broncos at 0-5.

Read more “September 6, 1960: View from the Future”