November 24, 1960

Confirming what had been considered a foregone conclusion, the San Francisco Park and Recreation Commission formally, but conditionally, granted the Raiders permission to play their last three home games in Candlestick Park. As had been announced previously, the team would be responsible for stadium cleaning as well as converting the field and scoreboard to a football configuration and back to baseball after the season.

While the team continued to prepare for the critical matchup with the Chargers on Sunday, the Tribune’s Scotty Stirling ran a feature on center Jim Otto, saying he was considered by many observers to be the best at his position in the league. At under 230 pounds, the coaching staff thought he would be too small, but as his coach Eddie Erdelatz said, “This is a guy that puts out one hundred percent all the time. He’s my kind of ballplayer, combining desire with real ability. You can’t beat that combination. We’ve played all the clubs in this league and have looked at miles of films of each and we haven’t seen a center that comes close to Jim.”

He was also a fine special teams player with Tom Louderback saying Otto was the fastest person he’d ever seen in pro football on punt coverage. The story also said he had played through injuries, including a “chronic” chest problem he had suffered since a skiing accident in his youth and a bad knee and ankle. According to Stirling, despite Otto’s physical woes, he had missed less than a half-dozen plays all year.

Oakland Tribune

November 23, 1960

A story by Scotty Stirling appeared in today’s Oakland Tribune that was probably, in part, a response to yesterday’s piece in the San Francisco Chronicle criticizing the Raiders’ front office. Addressing rumors that the team would force Chet Soda out of the general manager’s role, to be replaced by Robert Osborne and Wayne Valley, an unidentified owner said it wasn’t true. “We met just ten days ago and gave Soda a vote of confidence,” said the owner. “It would take a majority vote to force Soda out of his position and Chet is held in high regard by at least five of the eight voting owners. There may be some unhappiness with a couple of the owners, and it has become fashionable now to blame Soda for every little thing that goes wrong with the Raiders.

“It’s terrible when you think we have a club that is right in the thick of the title fight and something like this comes up. The only important thing is what the club does on the field and right now we are in a position to pick up all the marbles. I think it’s a tribute to Erdelatz and the team that they perform as well as they do with all this business about the front office continually in the papers.”

The story pointed out that Soda’s position was meant to be temporary and that Eddie Erdelatz was expected to take on the role at some point. Soda was not being compensated for his work and put in as many as twelve hours a day running the team, though he had started to delegate more responsibilities to his assistant, Bud Hastings. According to Stirling, Soda had had enough of the job, but wouldn’t be forced out and would leave on his own terms.

Soda, so far, had refused to comment on the rumor, saying, “Sunday we play in Los Angeles in a game that could put us in a first-place tie. That, and only that, is the number one thing on my mind right now.”

The piece also discussed rumors that Erdelatz was looking for a way out, but the same unidentified owner said the Raider coach had expressed some dissatisfaction with the way the team was run but had never been heard to say he wanted to leave.

In less dramatic news, the Raiders announced they had taken halfback Bobby Crespino out of Mississippi with their sixth-round pick in the draft.

Oakland Tribune

November 22, 1960

While the team continued to prepare for the Chargers and the front office declared they were “delighted” with their first five picks in this year’s draft, a story telling of the misadventures of a new football team appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle by staff writer Bruce Lee.

Painting the Raiders administrative staff as painfully unprepared for the task and thoroughly disorganized, the story was told mostly in a series of anecdotes. Team owners, most of whom had made their fortunes in construction, tried to apply the lessons learned there to the football field with cost-cutting a primary goal. Assistant coaches who were told to work from 9 to 5 with no overtime quickly learned that their bosses had no idea how they did their jobs and took their positions on handshake deals rather than signed contracts.

Road trips were even more interesting. Chet Soda, the acting traveling secretary as well as general manager did not always travel with the team. On the team’s recent three-game eastern swing, the players and staff went to Boston after the Titans game while the coaching staff and some of the owners stayed in New York. As a result, there was no planning oversight and the team had to practice in a different facility each day. No locker rooms were available, so the players had to dress at the hotel before practice and shower there afterward. Jack Fadden, a Harvard University trainer involved with the process, said, “I’ve been thirty years in athletics, but I’ve never seen anything like this outfit.”

Earlier in the season, when in Houston for the Oilers game, the team stayed at a hotel far out of town and the coaching staff at one point had to hitchhike to town to attend a banquet. A number of additional stories were told that reinforced the overall sense of farce.

The players had learned to take a philosophical approach. “We grumbled at first,” said Tom Louderback. “Then Erdelatz told us, ‘Quit griping. Laugh at whatever happens. Laugh if you wind up on the floor of the YMCA in a sleeping bag. We’ll all get along better.” It was a measure of the team’s respect for their coach that they largely did just that.

Cue Don Manoukian: “If this club had a training table, we’d be served mashed potato sandwiches and marshmallows.”

Hayward Daily Review
San Francisco Chronicle

November 21, 1960

The AFL announced the results of the first five rounds of their college draft. The Raiders went with tackle Joe Rutgens, a former All-American selection out of Illinois with their first choice. The complete list of their picks follows:

  • 1st round, T Joe Rutgens, Illinois
  • 2nd round, HB George Fleming, Washington
  • 3rd round, G Myron Pottios, Notre Dame
  • 4th round, E Elbert Kimbrough, Northwestern
  • 5th round, QB Dick Norman, Stanford

Locally, Norman got the most attention for obvious reasons, but he was playing it cool. “I’ll play where the money is,” he said. “I know what I want and if they don’t give it to me I just won’t play. If the pros don’t meet my terms I won’t even bother to turn out. I’ll just go back to school.”

The teams would make a sixth pick in a couple of days with the remaining 24 rounds coming sometime in December.

In stadium news, it was announced that the meeting between city and county officials to make a decision about a site and a funding plan, scheduled for tomorrow, would be postponed until December 7. This would give the parties time to make further investigations into the legal questions surrounding the proposal.

Associated Press
Oakland Tribune

 

November 18, 1960

Though a final decision wasn’t to be made until next week, Raider assistant general manager Bud Hastings was treating the move to Candlestick Park as a done deal. He said the decision had been made to lay out the field along the third base line into left field. “Laying out the grid this way will give us about 15,000 choice seats down the foul line and a total of about 30,000 good seats. We will rope off the very best section for our season ticket holders and there will be no problem keeping them all satisfied, I’m sure.” The first game in their new digs would be December 4 against the Chargers.

Oakland Tribune

November 17, 1960

Chet Soda announced that the Raiders would likely play their final three home games in Candlestick Park. Moving from Kezar Stadium would solve two problems. The first problem was a December 11 game against the Titans. The 49ers were scheduled to play on the 10th and if it rained, the field would be a mess without any time for the groundskeeping crew to perform repairs. Additionally, this would allow the team to move the season finale, currently scheduled for Friday night on the 16th, to a Saturday afternoon start on the 17th. The Raider had long wanted to make this move, believing that damp, foggy nights in San Francisco significantly depressed attendance. An agreement between Kezar and the 49ers prevented the Raiders from playing within 24 hours before a 49er game and the 49ers had a game scheduled for the 18th.

Walter Haas, president of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission said, “if the Raiders meet the conditions, we very likely would have no objections.” The conditions were as follows: the Raiders would pay the commission 10% of gate receipts with a minimum $2,500 payout per game. The team would be responsible for converting the field from baseball to football and back to baseball again after the season.

Several configurations were under consideration, with the preferred alignment being to run the field along the left field foul line. No consensus had been reached on which seats would be sold, but the Raiders suggested up to 28,000 seats would be available. Assistant general manager Bud Hastings said season ticket holders would be given priority seating and would not have to exchange tickets.

San Francisco Giants president Chub Feeney was amenable, suggesting the move would reduce his team’s financial obligation to the city. The commission was scheduled to meet on the 23rd to make a final decision on the plan.

The plan would be in place for 1960 only, but Soda said, “the possibility exists the Raiders will continue to play at Candlestick in 1961. However, at the end of the season, we will take a good, long look at any and every playing site possibility. Candlestick is not necessarily the answer for 1961.”

In league news, commissioner Joe Foss said the first six rounds of the college draft would take place by telephone on the weekend of November 19-20. Results would be announced on Monday, the 21st. The remaining 24 rounds would take place sometime in December. Team order would be based on current records, with the Raiders drafting in the fifth spot.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

November 15, 1960

While the Raider players enjoyed another day off, Eddie Erdelatz took time to again praise the team for their play against Buffalo. “They showed what the word desire means in the game Sunday,” he said. “You know, the Bills gave our kids a real licking in Buffalo and they wanted revenge. I knew all week long that they were really ready for a top effort and they certainly provided that. Unfortunately, the crowd was small. It was an enthusiastic bunch, however, and I’m sure our guys appreciate the support.”

Also offering his views was line coach Marty Feldman. He explained that since Ernie Jorge’s heart attack, he had been coaching both the offensive and defensive lines, then weighed in on the limitations of the Raider defense. “We need more weight on the defensive line,” he said. “The heaviest man we have now is 248 pounds. That might seem like a lot of beef, but the truth is that in this league they should go all the way up to 268 pounds. Just a couple of big boys to go with what we have now would be ideal.”

He also lamented the lack of speed at linebacker and in the secondary: “Guys like Alex Bravo and Eddie Macon are still good players, but let’s face it. They’re not kids anymore. We’re going to have to start shopping for replacements.”

He did admit that the Raiders were very much on the young side overall and that experience had its virtues. “The clubs that do (have experienced players) are the ones that are the roughest,” he said. “Some teams were able to get many men from the NFL and Canada. Our club, however, was only able to procure a few, so naturally we need experience.” He added that “we have no taxi squad. Because we want to keep expenses down, the only players we are carrying are the ones who play.”

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

November 14, 1960

The Raiders waived end Al Hoisington today. He had joined the team a few days after the season opener against Houston but had played sparingly as a backup to tight end Gene Prebola, catching just a handful of passes in eight games. With Doug Asad getting more work, Hoisington looked increasingly like the odd man out. That left the team with 34 players on the roster. Eddie Erdelatz was vague when asked if they would add another player to take his spot.

The players still on the team were enjoying the first of three consecutive days off.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

November 13, 1960

Giving what head coach Eddie Erdelatz called their best defensive effort of the season, the Raiders beat the Bills 20-7 to even their record at 5-5.

Before the game there was still noise about a pair of NFL games being televised in the area before the Raiders’ 1:30 start. After Chet Soda complained, Lamar Hunt was reportedly planning to lodge a formal protest with the NFL. The NFL’s commissioner Pete Rozelle was unmoved. “The new league appears to have a fixation that every action and policy of the National Football League is designed to impair their operation,” he said. “If they would expend more time and energy in the development of their own league, and less time worrying about the NFL, they would be much more successful than they apparently have been so far.” Rozelle added that the league had no control over broadcasts, explaining that once they sold the rights to networks, the league has “no control over utilization of these rights other than blacking out NFL cities from other NFL telecasts when our clubs play at home. This is in accordance with a 1953 decision of a US district court in Philadelphia. Telecasts of a game involving teams in the new league are beamed into all NFL cities when our teams play at home.” Read more “November 13, 1960”

November 12, 1960

Chet Soda was pissed. The Raiders’ rivalry with the 49ers and with the NFL in general had been not much more than background noise to this point, but when Soda learned that two NFL games would be broadcast in the area tomorrow in the morning before the Raiders’ afternoon game with the Bills, he was ready to speak up.

“That’s an illegal sneak punch,” he complained, “an outright war via television. It is added evidence that the National League is thumbing its nose at the anti-trust law. It is doing everything it can to kill the chances of a rival enterprise. This is in direct violation of the anti-trust laws under which professional football was explicitly placed by Supreme Court decisions. What excuse can the NFL offer in a court of law for a thing like this.”

Though the games – Rams vs Lions and Colts vs Bears – wouldn’t start at the same time as the Raider game, they would likely extend long enough that local viewers wouldn’t have time to get to Kezar following the end of those games. This would be, reportedly, the first time more than one NFL game would be broadcast in the area on a given Sunday. Notably, neither game involved the 49ers, who were off this weekend. Soda said he would lodge a formal protest with AFL commissioner Joe Foss.

Hayward Daily Review