Mar 282017

With Tom Flores unavailable to play quarterback in the near term and with roster reductions looming, Raiders head coach Eddie Erdelatz was planning to give more playing time to the men on the far end of the bench, starting with Paul Larson. So far, Larson hadn’t shown all that much in camp, displaying an inaccurate arm. Consequently, he had received almost no in-game opportunities, but he was going to get a chance tomorrow, sharing time with Babe Parilli. Plenty of other neglected players were going to get their chances, too.

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Sep 282016

Seven months, almost to the day, following the awarding of a franchise to Oakland, the Raiders assembled to play their first game, against the Dallas Texans at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.

The day dawned chilly and windy, with a drizzling rain that fell all morning. As game time approached, the rain stopped and the temperature climbed into the mid-60s, but the weather was still raw for the Bay Area in July, and as the stands filled, it was clear the team was not going to reach their attendance goals. By the 1:30pm kickoff, just 12,000 or so showed up to watch (later corrected to 10,882).

The Raiders got the ball first and moved it successfully for a while, but ultimately had to settle for a field goal try. Larry Barnes’ 37-yard attempt fell well short and Dallas took over on their own 31. On the Texans’ first play, Johnny Robinson swung around left end on a sweep, but fumbled. Joe Cannavino recovered for Oakland. Raider quarterback Tom Flores responded with a passing attack and pushed the ball to the two, where halfback Buddy Allen pushed it across for the first score. Barnes kicked the point after and the Raiders took the game’s first lead.

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Sep 032016

The Raiders held their second scrimmage of camp and this time owners Don Blessing, Ed McGah, Chet Soda, and Wayne Valley were there to observe. Tom Flores led the first-string “gold” squad while Paul Larson ran the second-string “blue” team. Observers thought Larson’s group performed slightly better, with Larson showing a knack for the bootleg run, but also thought both units showed real improvement since the first scrimmage, four days ago. Head coach Eddie Erdelatz singled out offensive linemen Wayne Hawkins, Jim Otto, and Ron Sabal, along with cornerback Joe Cannavino, for praise, and thought the defense in general showed good speed to the ball.

“It was a better scrimmage than last Tuesday”, according to Erdelatz, “but overall I would have to say it was just fair. The running was improved but we dropped too many passes. The defensive line pursuit was fine. We are getting better in all departments and, considering the short amount of practice, we don’t look too bad.”

Oakland Tribune

Jul 292016

With just a couple of days to go until the opening of training camp, the Raider brass shared some thoughts about the team.

Owner and general manager Chet Soda spoke about how far they had come in just a few months. “We had an office with two chairs and couple of telephones on the floor (in the beginning)”, he said, “but we didn’t have much chance to use the chairs. We sat on the floor keeping the phones busy attempting to catch up with the rest of the league.”

Head coach Eddie Erdelatz was just happy to make the acquaintance of some of his players, having seen only a handful of them play in person. “I hope most of them are strong enough to make us wince when we shake hands,” he said, “Even if it hurts, it will be an improvement over talking to them on the phone and working them into a system on paper. Now we will find out how the men will fit the system.

“Next year will be different and easier. We will know our players and the other teams. Our problem will be modifying and improving — much simpler than starting with nothing but two chairs and a pair of phones.”

As for early activity in training camp, Erdelatz explained that “we won’t have time at first for much instruction. We have to find those who can play and concentrate on them. Practice will be closed to the public for the first week or two. We can’t afford to waste a second because we have to be ready to play the Dallas Texans in Kezar Stadium, July 31.

“We know we obtained several men from the league pool who can play, but we have a lot to find out about most of the others. This is certainly one case when the lineup isn’t set in advance, when every position is really open.”

He felt that just about anything could happen once the season started. “We don’t know enough about what we have, or enough about the opposition, to be pessimistic,” he said. “The first few games will be interesting from a technical point. None of the teams will know just what preparations to make for the others. It will be a challenge.”

Erdelatz said he didn’t plan to be particularly strict about discipline in camp saying, “We won’t do any spying or have things like bed checks. Football at every level from Pop Warner league through professional requires sacrifice and if a player doesn’t realize this then he won’t do the club any good. This type of player can be spotted without bed checks and the like.”

The coaching staff planned to conduct morning and afternoon workouts each day.

Oakland Tribune

May 172016

In a conversation with Oakland Tribune columnist, Ray Haywood, Chet Soda discussed expenses. The Raider general manager said the team would spend an estimated $925,000 for the 1960 season, as partially itemized below:

  • $285,000 player salaries
  • $45,000 equipment
  • $31,600 training camp expenses
  • $13,000 training camp transportation
  • $60,000 air travel during the season
  • $10,000 telephone calls
  • $35,000 scouting
  • $140,000 administrative expenses and salaries

Soda estimated the team would need home attendance to average between 30,000 and 32,000 per game just to break even.

Oakland Tribune

Apr 042016

The team announced that co-owner and restaurateur Harvey Binns was getting out of the football business by selling his interest in the Raiders back to the remaining seven owners. Binns said he was not happy with the way Chet Soda was dominating football operations. “When we named Soda general manager it was to be a temporary thing until we hired a man with professional football experience,” he explained, “but now he doesn’t want to step down. The club needs someone with a pro background in that spot.”

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Mar 022016

The nine days wonder that was the Oakland Señors was no more. Faced with increasingly noisy objection to the team’s nickname from Easy Bay residents and potential fans, the Oakland leadership decided to go with Raiders instead. A duplicate set of prizes was awarded with the winning entry going to Kendrick Martin of Hayward. He chose Raiders “because our team and its supporters must be fired and inspired by a fighting name. ‘Raiders’ implies early, sustained offense, carrying the fight to the opponents.”

General manager Chet Soda approved. “(Raiders) was all we and the people of the Bay Area could wish for,” he said, “We certainly appreciate our fans’ interest in our club. Public sentiment disapproved of ‘Señors’. We hope everyone will like ‘Raiders’ as much as we do.”

Oakland Tribune

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

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 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