The team announced they had agreed to 1961 contract terms with four of their veterans: John Dittrich, Tom Flores, Charley Powell, and Tony Teresa. The news came as a welcome relief after all the public grousing about team parsimony back in March.
Said general manager Bud Hastings, “In Flores we believe we have the top quarterback in the league and we’re mighty happy to have him in the fold. Teresa was our top running back last year and we’re delighted he has come to terms.”
Scotty Stirling reported that Raider guard and Pacific Northwest tag-team wrestling champion Don Manoukian was quitting football to pursue his wrestling career full time. Manoukian, one of the most well-liked players on the team, said the decision was a difficult one that took several months to make.
“I loved playing with the Raiders,” he said, “and will miss such great competitors as Jim Otto and Tony Teresa, but in thinking of my future I realize I’ve got to take advantage of my wrestling opportunities right now. I can only take the bumps for another three or four years and wrestling, I feel, is the answer. (The Raiders are) a great outfit and Bud Hastings was real understanding when I finally called him and told him I was quitting. It was hard for me because I somehow felt I was letting the team down. Besides, there are a few guys in the AFL that I would like to clobber again, like the corner linebackers at Boston.”
Hastings and Eddie Erdelatz were very disappointed at the news. “The loss of Manoukian is hard to take,” said Hastings. “He was the heart of our fine offensive line last year.”
Hastings also announced that the team had resolved matters with ABC television and that a fourth away game was returned to the TV schedule: October 15 at Denver.
General manager Bud Hastings was hard at work trying to reverse a change to ABC’s televised game schedule this fall. When the network first released their schedule, four of the Raiders’ away games were to be broadcast over KGO in the Bay Area, but a recent change reduced that number to three.
Said Hastings, “Apparently they were forced to change the schedule and reduce our number of games. We are going to check on the situation immediately.”
The three games currently on the schedule were September 17 at San Diego, November 5 at Buffalo, and November 26 at Dallas.
The team’s musical director, Del Courtney, announced a partnership with the Oakland Ballet Company to find 100 women to form a dance troupe to be known as the “Raiderettes.” Though there had been cheerleaders performing at the halftime of games last season, this year Courtney wanted, in his words, “a program that is as smooth, precise, and imaginative as a TV musical spectacular or a Broadway show.”
The company’s choreographer, Raoul Pause, would be in charge of developing routines, fashion designer Don Ransom would come up with the costumes, and former AAU baton-twirling national champion Diane Shelton, current head of the cheerleading troupe, would assist Pause in his work.
Hayward Daily Review
Members of the Raiders and 49ers met in yet another sporting contest, this time on the alleys at Rheem Bowl in Moraga. Led by YA Tittle, the Niners took the three-game series, 2-1.
The team announced they had signed a pair of former Cal Bears to contracts today. The first was 6’1”, 220-pound linebacker Dick Carlsen. At Cal he had earned All-America honorable mention and played in the Copper Bowl all-star game at the end of his college career. The other was 6’2”, 240-pound guard Jim Green. He had had his senior year of 1959 cut short by a serious shoulder injury, but had recovered enough to play in alumni games each of the following two years, which is where Raider scouts spotted him.
As the offseason wound down, the Raiders and 49ers met in a final roller derby bout, with the Raiders coming out on top, 11-9.
When the Raiders came into being they were granted the signing rights to the draft picks of the abandoned Minneapolis franchise. As compensation for two of those players who signed with other AFL teams, the league awarded the Raiders an extra pair of 12th round picks in the 1962 draft. The players in question were halfback CJ Alexander, who went to Boston, and defensive end Jim O’Brien, who was signed by the Bills.
Sid Hoos’s column contained some more choice quotes gleaned from George Fleming during his visit to town.
Recounting the process by which he came to sign with the Raiders, he said, “It was nip and tuck for quite a while, but the Raiders came up with the best offer, money-wise, and in every other way. The fact that Coach Erdelatz flew up to talk with me in Seattle and laid the facts on the line without any hard sell had something to do with it. Abner Haynes, against whom I played in high school, also recommended Oakland as a good team with one of the best lines in the league, but a need for backs.”
Hayward Daily Review
Scotty Stirling reported that Steelers defensive back Fred Williamson was playing out his option and wanted to join the Raiders. Oakland general manager Bud Hastings said the Raiders would enter negotiations with Williamson as soon as it was permissible.
Williamson, a Berkeley resident who played in six games last season with Pittsburgh, said, “I had a good year with the Steelers, but I live in California and I’d like to play football with the Raiders.” He also said the Bay Area was more lucrative for his budding architect career.
The Raiders’ second-round draft pick, George Fleming was in town for an extended visit prior to training camp next month. He was there to get acquainted with both the team and the local facilities of the brewing company where he had worked while attending the University of Washington in Seattle.
When asked what he thought of his chances of making the team, he said, “I feel confident that I have the ability to make any team I try for, but I know it takes an all-out effort. I picked the Raiders over the Bears—who had drafted him in the NFL—not because I felt it would be easier to play for Oakland, but because of several other factors.
“The Raiders and the American League are just getting started and have no place to go but up. I like to be in on the ground floor. My employment situation with Rainier (Brewing) is another factor. My off-season job is on the Coast and it will help me to be playing with a California team.”
While in town he would meet with Eddie Erdelatz and get a copy of the playbook. He was hoping to be ready for the first exhibition game against the Oilers. Though Fleming had been a halfback with the Huskies, Erdelatz planned to try him out at flanker.
When Fleming remarked that he probably wouldn’t be able to wear his college number, 25, because Tony Teresa had it, and worried that he might not get a number at all, Erdelatz said, “He’s a cross between Hugh McElhenny and Lenny Moore and somehow I think he’ll have a number.”