Feb 282016

The Señors announced the signing of five more players, bring the total of official signees to ten. Two of the players were part of the second round of allocation draft choices, with more names presumably to come. The new draftees were:

Buddy Allen, a 5’11”, 195-pound halfback from Utah State. A two-year letterman with the Aggies, he gained 7.0 yards per carry his senior season, scoring seven touchdowns, and was originally drafted by Boston.

Ramon Armstrong, a 6’1″, 225-pound, guard/defensive tackle out of TCU, chosen from the New York Titans. He was also drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 20th round and was a participant in the East-West Shrine Game.

The team also confirmed previous reports that North Carolina end Alan Goldstein had indeed by drafted from Buffalo and had been signed.

The Señors also picked up free agent Jerry Flynn, a 6’1″, 230-pound defensive end from Humboldt State.

Lastly, they signed Tony Teresa, a 5’10”, 185-pound quarterback/halfback out of San Jose State. Teresa had been an excellent two-way player for the Spartans, leading them in both passing and defensive interceptions during his time there. After leaving college, he played for the British Columbia Lions in the 1956 and 1957, first at quarterback, then in the defensive backfield. In 1958, he got a cup of coffee with the 49ers, but was cut in October.

Oakland Tribune
Oxnard Press Courier
San Jose State football media guide
San Mateo Times
Tucson Daily Citizen

Feb 252016

Head coach Eddie Erdelatz reported that the team had signed 40 players, but he still wouldn’t provide a list until the league approved it. Meanwhile, the nickname controversy continued. An Oakland Tribune editorial suggested there was a groundswell of local support for a name change, citing various reasons, such as “Señors” wasn’t fierce enough for a football team, to suggestions that the name would be a source of merriment around the country. And there were hints of a racist component to the rumblings, that the name wasn’t sufficiently American. There was also a rumor, squelched by general manager Chet Soda, that Dallas owner Lamar Hunt had sent a one-word telegram in response to the nickname: “Ridiculous.”

Oakland Tribune

Feb 252016

A report circulated that the Señors had drafted 6’0″, 200-pound end Alan Goldstein from Buffalo in the second round of the allocation draft. Head coach Eddie Erdelatz wouldn’t confirm the choice, saying the league hadn’t notified him of anything. Goldstein, a 1958 NEA All-American first-teamer during his junior year at North Carolina had been drafted as a future pick by the Rams in 1959 and then was chosen by the Bills in the AFL’s draft.

Meanwhile, the newly-minted nickname was attracting some critics. The Oakland city council approved a resolution by a vote of 4-1, with three abstentions, disapproving of the Señors name. Raider co-owner Bob Osborne provided one of the four yea votes. Reasons for the resolution were not given.

Oakland Tribune

Feb 252016

While head coach Eddie Erdelatz and his crew were off scouting players for the second round of allocation picks, the nickname contest had wound down to its conclusion and the team announced the choice. Henceforth, the team would be known as the Oakland Señors. The winning entry belonged to Helen Davis, an employee of the Oakland police department. Her entry was among seven that chose Señors, and her explanation for the choice earned her the prize of a trip to Acapulco. Her winning entry: “Señors symbolizes the history, strength, and solidarity of Old World California. The name personifies the original fighting spirit characteristic of the first settlers of California.” Davis described herself as flabbergasted at winning the contest saying she wasn’t much a of a football fan, really, “but you can bet your life I will be from now on.”

General manager Chet Soda said he was pleased: “My own personal choice would have been Mavericks, but I believe we came up with a real fine name.”

Along with Mavericks, other names that made it to the final selection pool were:


Oaks and Acorns, nicknames of Oakland entries in baseball’s Pacific Coast League, were among the most popular entries, and Dons was considered at length, but the team ultimately rejected it as it was in use already by the University of San Francisco.

Other unusual entries:

Atom Smashers
Iron Ponies
Koala Bears
Oak Leafs
Poison Oaks
Prune Picklers
Red Dogs
Soda Jerks (suggested by a press wag)

Oakland Tribune

Feb 242016

The team announced five additional allocation draft selections from the first round. No choice was made from the Denver roster as head coach Eddie Erdelatz wanted to make further inquiries before selecting a player. The status of Ben Donnell, the choice announced by league commissioner Joe Foss the day before, was uncertain. Erdelatz would not confirm the choice, but didn’t deny it either, saying the announcement had come from the league office, not from the team. The five new selections were as follows:

From Boston: Bob Nelson, a 6’5″, 245-pound center from Wisconsin. Drafted by Cleveland in the 20th round and by the Texans in the 1st round, he had already been something of a wanderer in the pro ranks. Before making his way to the Patriots from the Texans, he had entertained offers from the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL.

From Buffalo: Joe Cannavino, a 5’11”, 185-pound halfback from Ohio State. A 16th-round pick of the Colts, he aided his Buckeyes to a 10-7 win over Oregon in the 1958 Rose Bowl with two interceptions. Baltimore cut him in training camp in 1958 and he suffered the same fate with the Browns in 1959 before turning up with the Bills.

From Dallas: Marv Lasater, a 6’0″, 190-pound halfback TCU. An All-Southwest Conference selection with the Horned Frogs, he was drafted in the third round by the Chargers and the fifth round by the Colts, before eventually signing with the Texans.

From Houston: Billy Lott, a 6’0″, 200-pound halfback from Mississippi. He was an All-Southeastern Conference choice with the Rebels, he scored the winning touchdown in 14-13 win over TCU in the 1956 Cotton Bowl. A sixth-round choice of the Giants, he got a handful of carries with New York in 1958 before leaving the team in the 1959 preseason.

From New York: Jerry Epps, a 6’1″, 225-pound guard from West Texas State. He had been drafted in the 28th round by the Packers in 1959, but ended up playing the season with Edmonton in the CFL.

While the draft was taking the lion’s share of the team’s attention, they weren’t ignoring the more obscure corners of the football landscape. Gordon Tovani, a barefoot placekicker from Marin County, had caught the eye of Erdelatz by virtue of a rumored successful 83-yard field goal attempt in practice.

Oakland Tribune
Ohio State University football media guide
Texas Christian University football media guide
University of Mississippi football media guide
University of Wisconsin football media guide
West Texas A&M University football media guide

Feb 242016

AFL commissioner Joe Foss announced that Oakland had selected Ben Donnell, center, from the Chargers in the first round of the allocation draft. Expected to play defense in the pro game, Donnell, a seventh round pick of the Detroit Lions in 1959, had left training camp voluntarily that summer, but was giving it another go in the AFL. The remaining six selections in the first round remained unnamed.

Milwaukee Journal
Oakland Tribune

Feb 222016

The Oakland front office announced their colors would be black and orange in a style reminiscent of the Chicago Bears. Home jerseys were to be black with white numerals and three orange stripes on the sleeves. Pants were to be white with black and orange stripes. An all-black helmet would complete the ensemble.

In non-sartorial news, the team indicated it had made its first seven selections in the allocation draft and were waiting for league authorization to announce the names.

Oakland Tribune

Feb 222016

As the first round of the AFL’s allocation draft got underway, Oakland general manager Chet Soda claimed that some teams were protecting more than eleven players, because some nominally draft-eligible players were unavailable due to no-trade clauses in their contracts. Soda was particularly interested in Houston quarterback George Blanda, but couldn’t talk the former Chicago Bear into signing with Oakland, even when offered more money than the Oilers had given him. Soda complained to Commissioner Joe Foss, but Foss, while sympathetic, refused to remedy the situation. The commissioner did agree that in subsequent rounds, teams would be required to include players with no-trade contracts among their eleven protectees.

In other news, head coach Eddie Erdelatz selected ex-Ram and -Colt halfback Tommy Kalmanir as his offensive backfield coach. An All-American at Nevada just after World War II, Kalmanir played three seasons with Los Angeles (1949-51) and spent 1953 with Baltimore before spending a final year as a player with Edmonton in the Canadian leagues in 1955. After his playing days were done, he put in time as a coach in the CFL before Oakland tabbed him.

The team also announced a player transaction. USC lineman Al Bansavage, a Minneapolis draftee whose signing rights had transferred to Oakland (a fact not previously reported), had signed with the Baltimore Colts.

Oakland Tribune

Feb 222016

The team announced a contest to decide their nickname. Sponsored by the Oakland Junior Chamber of Commerce, with a five-person panel of judges consisting of local business leaders and politicians, plus Chet Soda, each contestant was to offer their suggestion with a 25-words-or-fewer essay explaining the reason for their choice. The deadline for entries was April 2. First prize was a one-week trip for two to Acapulco plus a pair of tickets to the home opener. Second prize was a trip to Los Angeles to see the Charger game, plus tickets for the home opener. Third prize was a pair of season tickets, with 25 runners-up to receive tickets to the opener.

Oakland Tribune

Feb 212016

Reportedly, the team had 18 players under contract, but only Ed Hino had been named so far. The team did announce that the exhibition schedule was nearly complete. The four confirmed dates were:

August 14, vs the New York Titans, at a California site yet to be determined
August 21, at the Los Angeles Chargers
August 28, at the Buffalo Bills
September 4, at the Boston Patriots

The fifth game was thought likely to be against the Dallas Texans at a West Coast site, but the negotiations weren’t complete.