January 30, 1961

A week ago, the Raiders lost assistant coach Ed Cody and today it was learned they almost lost another. Offensive backfield coach Tommy Kalmanir announced that he had been recruited by an unidentified NFL team, but had decided to stay with Oakland after the team gave him a pay increase. “I wrestled with the temptation,” he said, “but I have faith in Oakland and the Raiders organization. I’m higher on the Raiders now than at any time since the club formed. We have a fine potential team coming up for 1961. With the draft choices we’ve signed, I’m confident we’ll turn out a good offensive ballclub.”

Oakland Tribune

January 27, 1961

Today the Raiders announced their biggest signing of the offseason so far, inking halfback George Fleming to a contract. From the University of Washington, Fleming was the team’s second-round pick and the sixth-round pick of the Chicago Bears. To convince him to sign with Oakland, Eddie Erdelatz traveled to Seattle to speak with him in person. After the deal was announced, the Raider head coach was “elated.” “Needless to say, we’re very pleased to sign our number two draft choice,” he said. “He’s an outstanding football player and I’m confident he’ll see plenty of action with the Raiders. We plan to use him as a flanker back and also expect to utilize his ability as a placekicker. He’ll help us in several spots.”

Fleming had played quarterback with the Huskies and had been named co-outstanding player in the 1960 Rose Bowl.

In other news, supporters of a multi-purpose stadium in Oakland received encouraging news. Word came out that the American League had identified Oakland as likely site for Major League Baseball expansion by 1964. In response, the chair of the Oakland Coliseum Committee, Robert Nahas, responded by saying, “This gives us a great impetus to proceed with all speed along the lines we are now pursuing with the construction of an all-purpose stadium.” The committee was, at present, trying to fill out the directorship for the non-profit corporation tasked with getting the project underway.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 24, 1961

The Raiders signed three more players today, but George Fleming was not one of them. The inking of the team’s second-round pick had been thought to be imminent, but Fleming was quoted today as saying, “I never said I’d decided on the Raiders. I haven’t decided on anything yet. So far as I’m concerned, everything is still open.”

A Raiders spokesperson said, “We can’t make any announcement until we actually sign him.”

The first player they did sign was their 21st-round choice, quarterback Mike Jones out of San Jose State, who had also been selected by the Steelers in the 20th round of the NFL draft. Jones, at 6’1” and 200 pounds, completed 71 of 152 passes for 1,049 yards with the Spartans in 1960 and had been an honorable mention All-America choice. Assistant coach Marty Feldman said Jones “has a strong arm and is a fine thinker.”

The team also signed 6’1”, 230-pound guard Roger Fisher of Utah State. The Raiders’ 23rd-round pick had been a two-year letterman on both sides of the line for the Aggies. He had started his college career at Modesto Junior College.

Finally, the Raiders signed free agent guard Arnold Metcalf from Oregon State. At 6’4” and 250 pounds, Metcalf was 25, having spent two years in the army after his college stint had ended.

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 23, 1961

The Raider coaching staff found itself down a member when secondary coach Ed Cody announced his resignation to take a post under Jim Sutherland at Washington State University. In addition to his coaching duties he would be in charge of recruiting in Southern California for the Cougars. “I’ve been anxious to return to college football for some time now and I consider this an unusually fine opportunity,” he said. “It is with regret that I leave the Raiders and head coach Eddie Erdelatz.”

Hired on May 4, Cody had been the last addition to Erdelatz’s staff and took charge of a unit that lacked speed and occasionally found itself burned by strings of big plays, but also had a keen nose for the ball as exemplified by Eddie Macon’s nine interceptions. Erdelatz couldn’t be reached for comment, but acting general manager Bud Hastings said, “Cody has been a most valuable member of our organization and we accepted his resignation with regret. We wish him well.”

Erdelatz was now tasked with finding two new assistants, one to replace Cody and one to replace line coach Ernie Jorge, who had suffered a heart attack in September and hadn’t coached since. Jorge had recovered and was recently seen speaking at a banquet, but there was no word about his returning to the sideline.

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 19, 1961

A report appeared in a Seattle newspaper that the Raiders’ 2nd-round pick, University of Washington halfback George Fleming, had said he would sign with Oakland. This was the first the team had heard of it and no deal had been officially announced. Fleming said he had spoken with both the Raiders and the Bears, who had picked him in the 6th round of the NFL draft, and added that the Raiders were ready to meet his salary demands and use him as a flanker and placekicker.

San Francisco Chronicle

January 17, 1961

With the ownership drama behind them the Raiders announced the signing of three new players today.

First was their 13th-round draft pick, 6’1”, 195-pound end Jerry Burch from Georgia Tech. A sixth-round pick of the expansion Minnesota Vikings in the NFL, player personnel director Wes Fry said, “He has fine speed and is an exceptional competitor.” Burch captained the Yellow Jacket squad in 1960 was a skilled punter, nailing a 77-yard boot in 1958.

Next was their pick in the 15th round, 6’4”, 200-pound end Bob Coolbaugh from the University of Richmond. Fry called him “one of the top pass-catching ends in the East,” and said, “He has excellent speed and maneuverability and is difficult to cover.” He had been the 12th-round choice of the Redskins. Coolbaugh was an all-conference performer in his senior year with the Spiders.

Last was 5’6”, 189-pound free agent halfback Oneal Cuttery. A San Jose State Spartan in his college days, he was team MVP in 1959, his last season there and had attended Castlemont High School in Oakland.

Georgia Tech media guide
Hayward Daily Review
Pro Football Reference
San Francisco Chronicle
University of Richmond media guide

 

January 16, 1961

Today, more details appeared regarding yesterday’s momentous reorganization of the Raider ownership group. The sticking point in the negotiations was the AFL’s anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL. The pending legal action stood to get league owners as much as ten million dollars and the departing members of the group wanted to retain rights to their part of the settlement. The remaining owners objected, saying that if the former owners were no longer contributing to the legal fees, they weren’t eligible for the payoff.

AFL commissioner Joe Foss also enlarged upon his role in the negotiations. “I told the owners Sunday night,” he said, “that a number of interested groups were ready to take over the franchise if the two incompatible groups which ran the Raiders would not get together. I heard each group tell its story and concluded that they had reached an impasse and could not get together. The owners of the other seven teams sent me here to work things out and if harmony couldn’t be achieved somehow, I was to pick up the Oakland franchise. Four groups, representing three different cities, made firm statements of interest.”

San Francisco Chronicle

January 15, 1961

It took a seven-hour meeting and intervention by AFL commissioner Joe Foss, but the long-rumored ownership shakeup finally happened.

The day started with the eight owners getting together to try and resolve the mutual antipathies that had built up among the various group cliques. Three hours in and with nothing settled, Foss arrived in person with a pair of league lawyers.

As Foss explained, behavior at recent league meetings had shown that “all was not well in Oakland. It was decided then that I should come to Oakland for the meeting. I was authorized to take away the franchise if the problems couldn’t be worked out. I got here after the men had been in session for three hours and had reached an impasse.” Everyone agreed they wanted to keep the team in Oakland, but Foss said, “they just couldn’t get along and it was obvious one group had to sell out. For the next four hours, I and the league attorneys listened to both sides of the argument and finally a sale agreement was reached. Everyone in the league feels that Oakland can become one of our great franchises.”

It was decided that Don Blessing, Charles Harney, Roger Lapham, Wallace Marsh, and Chet Soda would sell their shares to Ed McGah, Robert Osborne, and Wayne Valley. McGah would retain his position as president, with the vice presidency going to Valley, and Osborne assuming the treasurer role.

Afterward, Valley said, “The three of us have wanted all along to proceed in Oakland. We are all East Bay businessmen and we feel that we can succeed.” Asked about rumors that the team would pursue austerity, he added, “We want to win, and we are businessmen, and within those confines we shall move forward. We have lots of things to look into and personnel to evaluate. This is not to say that we are unhappy with the people we now have.”

One of those people was Eddie Erdelatz who, responding to the news that the team would stay in town, said it was “one of the greatest things to happen to the city of Oakland. We will make every effort to field a team Oakland can be proud of next season. The American League has shown what it can do on the field. Our fans were pleased with the wide-open style of play and I feel we’ll have much larger crowds next year.”

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

 

January 14, 1961

A report appeared in Chicago newspapers that White Sox owner Bill Veeck had purchased the Raiders for $175,000 and planned to move them to Comiskey Park. All parties hastened to refute the story.

Veeck said the tale was “absolutely not true. I have not talked with officials of the Oakland team or any other professional football club and I don’t contemplate doing so. We would like to have a tenant for Comiskey Park in the offseason, but I wouldn’t go so far as buying Oakland to get one.”

Wayne Valley said, “We don’t know anything about that. It’s the first I’ve heard of it and it’s completely untrue. It’s a shot in the dark. If there were anything to it, I would be the first one to know.”

Chet Soda said the report was a “complete surprise to him,” though co-owner Roger Lapham said that Soda had responded positively to the rumor when he first heard it and Lapham added for himself, “You can quote me: the Raiders are for sale at the proper price.”

All this served to highlight news of continued dissension amongst the owners. Lapham said, “We’ll either resolve our problems among ourselves or sell the club before the end of the month.”

Newly installed team president Ed McGah acknowledged there were disagreements but thought they “should see it through at least the second year, as we agreed.” He admitted some of the owners wanted to sell out and that other owners had offered to buy them out, but in any event the team would stay in Oakland. “Bob Osborne, for one, is too civic-minded to let (a move) happen and our pre-incorporation articles state that no one can sell any part of his stock without the unanimous approval of the other owners.”

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 12, 1961

San Francisco Chronicle scribe Darrell Wilson wrote about the Raiders’ poor luck signing draft choices. Except for a couple of late round picks, the team had announced no other agreements. Of the first six choices, five had signed elsewhere: Joe Rutgens with the Redskins, Myron Pottios with the Steelers, Elbert Kimbrough with the Rams, Dick Norman with the Bears, and Bobby Crespino to the Browns. Only their second-round pick, George Fleming, had yet to sign and the Raiders were still hoping to nab him.

Player personnel director Wes Fry hastened to say the team had “signed about seven players. We’ll make the announcement soon. I think we’ll do a lot better from here on in. Things are looking up. As a whole, the AFL is doing a pretty good job. Of the league’s first 100 draft choices, we definitely have signed 29 and have lost 24 to the NFL and 3 to Canada. Of the first 50, we’ve signed 15 and have lost 15 to the NFL.”

Head coach Eddie Erdelatz, upon hearing that his team had signed seven players, asked, “Have we? Are they drafted players?” He said he wasn’t complaining, but said, “Any coach would be unhappy to lose five of the first six draft choices. We’ll be very happy to sign anybody. However, it’s really not my place to talk about these things. Ask the club officials.”

San Francisco Chronicle