Two days after Oakland had won a pro football franchise, stories about how it all happened were still coming out. Most of the new owners were rival building contractors who decided to pool their funds and buy a piece of pro sports. There were also two unidentified “silent partners” involved, with the level of their support and involvement also unknown. All agreed with reports that it wouldn’t have happened without an ultimatum to the league from Los Angeles Chargers owner Barron Hilton and the urging of his general manager Frank Leahy.
As the dust from the announcement settled, there was a huge list list of chores facing ownership, first among them, finding a general manager and head coach.
In response to press speculation that former Navy coach Eddie Erdelatz or recently-retired Red Sox outfielder Jackie Jensen, both Bay Area natives, were among those under consideration for various posts, Robert Osborne said, “It is utterly ridiculous at this point to start a guessing game because we haven’t even held our first organizational meeting. We will gather together as a group for the first time late this afternoon to discuss all our problems, not just the business of a general manager and a coach.”
At that meeting, attended by seven of the eight owners, the group named Chet Soda chairman of the board and hoped to take a methodical approach to putting together a staff.
“Getting a general manager is our first job,” said Soda. “We can’t do much talking about players or a coach until we do that.” He added, “I hope we’ll be able to name the man or at least give some indication of when we can do so after our next meeting.” The team planned to get outside help in vetting candidates.
With the league’s draft already two months past, the team would have to scramble to find enough decent players to be competitive. It was unclear whether the team would acquire the rights to any of the players drafted by the Twin Cities group and it was also clear the owners hadn’t yet given much thought to the matter.
Asked by a reporter about the possibility of the team’s signing Canadian Football League players such as ex-Cal and current Calgary Stampeders quarterback Joe Kapp, Soda responded, “It depends.”
Charles Harney quickly added, “Wait a minute. What he means is, we have to learn the rules.”
Soda agreed, saying, “We’re certainly not going to hijack players. Maybe all of the Canadian players haven’t signed options. Anyway, we certainly will abide by the rules.” He also said that the team needed a general manager and coach to begin making overtures to potential players.
Also, high among tasks was finding a place to play. The early assumption was that the team would have to play in San Francisco, either at Kezar Stadium or Candlestick Park, until a facility in Oakland could be built. The use of either place would depend on the approval of the city of San Francisco, various facilities managers, and in the case of Candlestick, cooperation of the Giants baseball club, none of which was guaranteed, though all had been discussed.
Other possibilities included the University of California’s Memorial Stadium, though university officials had generally been cold to the idea of a pro team playing there. The city of Hayward was also making a strong play to lure the team there, hoping for support from Ed McGah, whose son owned a piece of property there upon which a stadium could be built.
“Nothing’s been done yet (regarding a stadium),” said Soda. “That will be up to the general manager when he’s selected. We haven’t been given any terms to consider.”
Of perhaps less, but still significant importance, was the team’s relationship to their NFL counterparts across the bay, the 49ers. Team president Vic Morabito refused to comment when asked about their new rivals.
Soda, naturally, took a positive approach. “I hope both teams will function in the Bay Area as friends,” he said, “and that we will cooperate and always be on good terms. There are about four million people in a one-hundred-mile area around here and I think that will be enough to support two professional teams.”
Finally, when asked about a team nickname, Soda said, “we’ll let the public pick our name in some kind of newspaper contest. I’ve had a flock of them suggested – Jets, Alonzo Staggs, Bay Bombers, Pioneers, etc. – in conversation.”
Hayward Daily Review
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Examiner