November 10, 1960

Team trainer George Anderson reported that Charley Powell was doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Bills because of his badly bruised ribs. To take his place on the end of the line George Fields would slide over from tackle and taking Fields’ place would be Ramon Armstrong, Don Deskins, or Ron Warzeka. The Raiders were shifting personnel in the secondary, too. Eddie Erdelatz was benching safety Wayne Crow for unspecified reasons. Alex Bravo would move from his corner spot to take Crow’s place, with John Harris moving in at starting cornerback. Erdelatz wouldn’t comment on the benching, but observers said that Crow’s play had gotten “sloppy.”

In broader league news, Chargers owner Barron Hilton, quoting a conversation with Lamar Hunt, said that all eight AFL teams would return in 1961 and play in the same city as this season. “This goes for Oakland, (too),” said Hilton, “There have been some reports that Chet Soda, co-owner of the Raiders, might move the franchise, but Soda says he will definitely have an Oakland team in 1961.”

Oakland Tribune

February 1, 1960

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. Read more “February 1, 1960”

January 30, 1960

In another stunning reversal, the AFL awarded the eighth and final franchise to the city of Oakland. Much of the credit for the change went to Chargers owner Barron Hilton. Hilton, who had been out of town for previous votes, made a strong plea upon his return for choosing Oakland. And on the league’s fifth ballot, the California city was chosen unanimously. Commissioner Joe Foss gave three reasons for the decision: the creation of a west coast rival for Los Angeles, the Oakland community’s strong show of interest, and better geographic balance than would have been provided by a team in Atlanta. Foss also credited a strong presentation by Chet Soda, Wayne Valley, and in particular, Robert Osborne.

The complete ownership group was as follows:

Art Beckett – East Bay contractor

Harvey Binns – owner of The House of Harvey restaurant and Affiliated Government Employees’ Distributing Company stores, a membership-based discount department store chain

Don Blessing – stockbrocker and winner of gold medal at 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam as coxswain of eight-man rowing team

Charles Harney – Bay Area contractor and builder of the recently completed Candlestick Park

Ed McGah – Bay Area contractor and father of Ed McGah, Jr., a catcher with the Boston Red Sox for a couple of years in the mid-1940s

Robert Osborne – member of the Oakland city council

Chet Soda – real estate developer and construction magnate

Wayne Valley – Bay Area contractor Read more “January 30, 1960”

January 29, 1960

Perfectly illustrating the uncertainty surrounding information coming from the AFL’s meeting in Dallas, the Atlanta bid, in a complete reversal of opinion, now appeared to be the shoo-in choice. Lamar Hunt led the arguments by saying he wasn’t sure the Bay Area could support two teams. Late in the evening the vote went 5-2, Atlanta, with Boston and Los Angeles favoring Oakland. Then Boston was persuaded to vote for Atlanta and Barron Hilton remained as the lone Oakland holdout. George McKeon’s San Francisco proposal was now out of the running entirely.

Spurred into action by the balloting, the Oakland forces pulled out all the stops. Impassioned pleas for the city’s bid arrived in Dallas by telegram from mayor Clifford Rishell, congressman George Miller, and William Sparling of the Chamber of Commerce.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 28, 1960

The news out of Dallas was the league owners had voted 5-2 in favor of Oakland over Atlanta. Unanimity was required for a decision. The meeting was scheduled to adjourn today and Lamar Hunt said subsequent votes might have to be done by telephone and it could be another ten days until a final decision was rendered. Oakland’s current advantage was thought to be the result of Barron Hilton’s advocacy, but Hunt said Hilton “wouldn’t hold out if he felt the remainder of the league wanted some other team.” Stadium concerns continued to be the main point of contention regarding the Oakland bid, while racial segregation in Atlanta was giving the owners pause there.

Back in Oakland the city council unanimously voted to start the process to get a stadium bond issue on the ballot, possibly as early as June. Council member Frank Youell also took time to respond to San Francisco mayor George Christopher’s less than enthusiastic support of an Oakland team playing temporarily in his city.

“We have never asked a favor of San Francisco since 1906,” Youell said, pointing out that Oakland had come to San Francisco’s aid during the earthquake. “I’m disappointed by that attack of Mayor Christopher. We’re not asking anything permanent. We only want a place for the Oakland team to play for two years. I can’t understand this as being neighborly.”

Oakland mayor Clifford Rishell chimed in with, “I want to remind Mayor Christopher that I had him as a guest at luncheon shortly after his election and we had a picture taken shaking hands, like hands across the bay. It was nothing but friendship then.”

Christopher’s initial response upon hearing of the rebukes was to chuckle and then added, “I certainly don’t mean to laugh at the earthquake or my fine friends in Oakland. It’s just that it happened so long ago, before I was born. They certainly are going back a long way. Mayor Rishell and Councilmen Youell and (Robert) Osborne are good friends of mine. I’m sure they would take the same position I have if our positions were reversed. These people are very eager to use our stadium but that haven’t talked to me about it. All I have is hearsay. The application will go to the Recreation and Park Commission and they will act on it. But there’s liable to be a $25,000 or $50,000 bill for converting to football at Candlestick and I don’t sign bills without asking questions.”

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 27, 1960

Developments in the Oakland ownership derby became more muddled. Back in the Bay Area, a new group emerged. This one was led by George McKeon, son of a local construction firm owner, and Kezar Stadium concessionaire Bernard Hagen. McKeon and Hagen had sent a telegram to the league asking for consideration of their bid for a team representing San Francisco. Lamar Hunt said they would be given a few minutes to informally outline their proposal and if it seemed worth consideration, the league would allow them to make their case in detail before the entire group.

Meanwhile, the AFL continued to weigh the options that were already on the table. Observers thought Oakland now had the inside track and that the San Francisco bid seemed unlikely to get much support. These sources pointed out that the AFL had already invaded two NFL cities, New York and Los Angeles, and even a third, if Dallas counted. But the league was still clearly undecided. Bud Adams of Houston and Ralph Wilson of Buffalo were said to favor Atlanta, while Hunt in Dallas and Barron Hilton in Los Angeles were Oakland backers. Aiding the Oakland position was confirmation by the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Commission that Kezar Stadium and Candlestick Park would be available as long as a team’s needs didn’t conflict with those of the Giants and 49ers. Hunt thought it might take another week to make a final decision.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
United Press International

January 20, 1960

With a league meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Los Angeles to determine which West Coast group would apply for a franchise, ownership group machinations continued. Yet another potential set of investors emerged, this one headed by a pair of Oakland auto dealers: Bill Jackson and Ed Goldie. The Jackson/Goldie group also included Stanford graduate and NFL great, Ernie Nevers, whose name kept popping up and who was thought to be a general manager candidate. A plan developed to merge the Jackson/Goldie group with Ted Harrer’s group. The Jackson/Goldie team claimed to have raised $500,000 among ten investors while Harrer said his group had come up with $350,000 so far. Barron Hilton thought the team would need a minimum of $250,000 ready cash to survive the first year.

Muddying the waters further was a rumor that the Twin Cities could reenter the fray if the deal to join the NFL failed to materialize.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 13, 1960

Either discouraged by lack of progress finding a group to head an Oakland franchise or simply wanting to expand his options, Barron Hilton sent Chargers general manager Frank Leahy to San Francisco to see if he could drum up interest in a team to play in that city. “I’m still optimistic that northern California backing can be secured. I think that area will bid for the franchise when the league meeting is held in Dallas, January 21.”

San Francisco Chronicle

January 11, 1960

Those hoping to put an AFL franchise in Oakland found those hopes diminished today. First, overtures to the University of California were not promising. The school’s athletic director, Greg Engelhard, reaffirmed the university’s policy concerning use of the stadium by professional teams and said a final decision would have to be made by university president Clark Kerr, who was out of the country and unavailable until the 18th. The “greatly enthusiastic” mayor of Oakland, Clifford Rishell, said in the meantime he planned to meet with Glenn Seaborg, Nobel Prize-winning chemist and member of the university’s Board of Regents, to discuss the situation.

Without a stadium in the East Bay, potential owner Ted Harrer said he wasn’t interested. He wanted no part of a team if it had to play in San Francisco. One of his prospective partners, Robert Lurie, said, “I thought Harrer would be willing to play in Candlestick temporarily, but I no longer think so after our meeting. I have no wish to be a principal stockholder, although I would have been willing to be in a minority group along with Harrer and others.”

Oakland city council member Robert Osborne was still interested. “Our group, headed by George Jacopetti, can come up with a million dollars in five seconds. We are in a position to fill any financial requirement which the league makes, but our main concern is to get a place to play.”

Currently, the financial requirement was the payment of a $25,000 earnest fee. A Miami group had already paid up. An Atlanta group had made a verbal commitment, but so far there had been nothing from Oakland.

South of town, in Hayward, another plan was being hatched. That city’s mayor, Floyd Attaway, said, “I can’t reveal their identities as yet, but private parties are interested, and I have reason to believe that they have a chance of bringing the franchise here.”

Despite the uncertainty, Lamar Hunt was reportedly being swayed toward supporting Oakland over Miami and Barron Hilton refused to throw in the towel. “I guess you’d have to say this is a blow,” he said, “but I still think I can secure financial backing. It’s a good proposition and I believe other Bay Area men can be interested.”

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 9, 1960

A press conference was held to discuss a meeting convened by Barron Hilton to plan strategy for an Oakland AFL bid. Among the attendees in San Francisco were Oakland Tribune assistant publisher William Knowland, chairman of the Oakland sports stadium committee George Jacopetti, Oakland city councilmen Robert Osborne and Dan Marovich, Oakland city manager Wayne Thompson, Berkeley city assemblyman Don Mulford, Oakland Chamber of Commerce president William Sparling, son of a San Francisco real estate man Robert Lurie, Hal Schoener, a former San Francisco 49er player representing local magnate Ted Harrer, and AFL leader Lamar Hunt. Hunt pointed out again that time was of the essence and that a local bid had to be put together as quickly as possible. For most of the meeting the focus was on getting a stadium. Of primary concern was the possibility that East Bay fans would not support a team playing in San Francisco, even under the Oakland name. A faint hope was held out that the team could convince the University of California to allow the team to play in 80,000 seat Memorial Stadium until an Oakland stadium could be built, but a long-standing university rule against allowing professional sports to use school facilities stood in the way. There was also a rumor that the city of Hayward, just south of Oakland, was considering building a stadium and trying to land the team.

Some negotiating among the potential owners leaked from the meeting as well. Osborne indicated he would be willing to invest up to $200,000 as part of an East Bay ownership group. Jacopetti also identified himself as a possible investor. Schoener said Harrer would be in, but wanted 51 percent ownership of the team as a condition of his investment.

Frank Leahy, the Chargers general manager, was also at the meeting to assist Hilton, and explained that a draft pool would be created from players let go by the other seven teams and that, in the interest of league competitive balance, efforts would be made to ensure that the pool did not consist solely of scrubs. Leahy thought each team would take about 60 players to training camp in the summer, with roster limits to be set at 33 by the first week of the regular season. Initially, the league was planning to start play the weekend of September 18.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle