July 26, 1961

Jim Otto dropped a bombshell on the team today by announcing he would play out his option after the season and seek a spot in the NFL next year, according to George Ross of the Tribune. Unsurprisingly, money was at the heart of it. He and the Raiders were “several thousand dollars” apart from an agreement and Otto said he wasn’t “going to budge.” He also said he knew of three NFL teams that would pay him what he was asking for.

Otto, who made $8,000 last year, said he “was disappointed after winning the all-league honor last season. This usually brings a bonus from the club, $500 to $1,000 from some clubs. I got just one thing, a (newspaper) clipping somebody sent me. I want to be able to retire with something when I finish playing. It’s not just the salary, either. It’s a matter of off-season opportunities, too.

“We have a great bunch of guys on this club and this is the best coaching staff I’ve ever played under. But this is, after all, a profession. I had to prove I could make the team last year and after making it, I went out to prove I was the best. I think that’s worth a good raise.”

Bud Hastings, who was also trying to come to an agreement with Tom Louderback, said, “We’re still trying to work the thing out. We’ll talk to him (Otto) in a couple of days.”

Thinning the crew

Raider training camp was in full swing today and a new series of cuts were in. Five men, all of whom where free agent signings during the offseason were placed on waivers: running back Bo Bankston, defensive back Clive Bullian, linebacker Dick Carlsen, defensive back Grover Garvin, and defensive back Ed Whittle. Also, the team finally got in touch with defensive lineman Ramon Armstrong, who told them he was retiring from football to help run his father’s ranch back home in Texas.

Armstrong’s decision left the Raiders short on both lines. Eddie Erdelatz said, “We’ll have to figure on some position changes to strengthen both spots,” and suggested that some prayer wouldn’t hurt, either.

Camp news

Scotty Stirling’s camp report in the Tribune included news of a “near fight” between Al Bansavage and Bob Coolbaugh, and Tommy Kalmanir’s praise for the work of running backs Oneal Cuttery, Alan Miller, Jetstream Smith, and Tony Teresa. Joe Cannavino, Wayne Crow, and Bob Voight also looked good.

Stirling said Erdelatz was already installing his new defense and that he was pleased at how fast the veterans were catching on. “We are throwing the stuff at them fast,” he said, “and they seem to like the change.”

Linebacker Bob Dougherty concurred, “Coach Erdelatz is doing a lot more coaching with the defense than he did last year and I’m confident we’ll be a lot tougher.”

Read more “July 26, 1961”

July 24, 1961

The Raiders conducted their first organized training drills today and according to Scotty Stirling of the Tribune Eddie Erdelatz was happy with how things went, especially at quarterback. “The quarterbacks in this camp are much better than what we started with last year,” he said. He added that rookies Mike Jones and Nick Papac “were impressive in our passing drill and, of course, Tommy Flores is an exceptional thrower. Tom obviously has been practicing prior to coming here, so we’ll be much further along with our quarterbacking than in 1960.”

Several players commented on how quickly things were moving this year, including linebacker Bob Dougherty who said, “We’ve got more hustle and spirit than we had last year. With a year’s experience behind us and with a couple of good rookies to fill in, we can have a real good team.”

Stirling noted that a few of the rookies stood out from the crowd, including running back Oneal Cuttery, defensive back Herm Urenda, and ends Jerry Burch and Clair Appledoorn.

Position switch

Nyle McFarlane, who played on offense at halfback and flanker last year, was being given a shot in the defensive backfield. As McFarlane explained, “Before joining the Raiders I started on defense in six games for the Dallas Cowboys, so I’m familiar with the position.”

Crowded at the top

In today’s Examiner, Bob Brachman reported that the team’s plan to add as many as 35 limited partners to the ownership group was well on its way to fruition. According to general manager Bud Hastings, “the stuff (shares in the team) went like hotcakes. Most buyers were successful East Bay businessmen, which was heartening, because we took the quick sale to be indicative of the confidence they have in the team’s future. The most significant aspect is that the Raiders organization is now on its way to becoming a community enterprise. It has generated a broader interest base. Of course, none of the 35 will have any say about running the team.”

Read more “July 24, 1961”

July 23, 1961

The Examiner ran their season preview today under Bob Brachman’s byline. Brachman highlighted the ways things would be different for the Raiders this year, some good, some not so good.

In the not so good column, he pointed out that the team no longer had first dibs on 49ers and Redskins castoffs and, as Eddie Erdelatz pointed out, “It’s a cinch NFL releases will be funneled to Minnesota and Dallas (the two expansion teams) if at all possible.” And even the draft wasn’t much help as only six of the 30 players picked would report to camp with second-round choice George Fleming the only one from the first 12 rounds.

Erdelatz, again: “I don’t say any or all of these might not turn out (to be) good players, but it’s kind of slim pickings when you consider that San Diego picked up 11 of their first 14 draftees, Buffalo got 9 of 12, and Houston and Dallas did just about as well. They were the strong teams to start with, so we’ve got our work cut out.”

According to general manager Bud Hastings, parsimony on the part of the ownership, particularly before the reorganization in January, played a role. “If we had been able to offer a little extra inducement, as all other clubs did this past year, we could have hooked half a dozen of our top draft picks who got away,” he said. Hastings was now able to offer signing bonuses, but that change occurred well after the prime draft pick signing period.

Hastings also explained that the team’s scouting system had been improved. While most scouting last year had been via telephone, he said, “that gets you nowhere fast. Unless you have that personal contact with prospects, you don’t get very far. Our owners (now) recognize that you have to have a top scouting system and that it costs money. We’re going to have four or five people looking for talent across the country.”

In the Tribune, Scotty Stirling wrote that many of the Raiders had bulked up this year after being one of the lightest teams in the league last year. Most notable among the gainers was Jim Otto who, after starting last season at 210 pounds and finishing at 235, reported in at 248 pounds this year, putting him more on par with his counterparts across the AFL. On defense, Charley Powell came in at 245, some 30 pounds above his former boxing weight, but said he’d probably get down to 235 for the season.

There are quite a few guys who have grown considerably in a year,” said trainer George Anderson, “and most of them have been running and working out for several weeks so it looks like solid growth to me.” For the guys who were bigger but less diligent about their training he said, “We will set up the fat man’s training table immediately.”

In case the coach reads all the papers

Middle linebacker Tom Louderback was the subject of sports editor George Hower’s column in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. After talking about Louderback’s work during the season ticket sales campaign, Hower reported the linebacker’s opinion of playing for his head coach, saying Erdelatz “drives us real hard and we like it.”

July 18, 1961

New Raiders Dick Christy and Alan Miller continued their media blitz with Mel Bowen of the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Christy and Miller were the first two arrivals in Santa Cruz for training camp that was scheduled to start in a few days. Neither Bud Hastings nor Eddie Erdelatz had yet put in an appearance so the two former Patriots were reduced to working out on the beach for several hours each day.

Christy was trying to get down to his playing weight and, by his account, still had eight pounds to go. Miller, for his part, was battling a sinus infection, and Christy said, “that’s what he gets” for laying “five hours on the beach.”

Miller said neither he nor Christy had met Erdelatz, but that he had played against his Navy teams while attending Boston College and said Erdelatz “always had the wagons then.”

July 12, 1961

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.”

Oakland Tribune

July 9, 1961

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.”

TV News

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.

Oakland Tribune

July 7, 1961

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.

Oakland Tribune

June 7, 1961

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.

Oakland Tribune

May 27, 1961

Calgary Stampeders general manager Jim Finks was having none of it. Finks immediately rebuffed the Raiders’ request to enter negotiations for the Joe Kapp’s signing rights, saying, “We have exercised the option on Kapp’s contract, so if he plays football in 1961 it will have to be with us.”

Bud Hastings wasn’t ready to take no for an answer yet. “We’ll keep trying, of course,” he said. “I feel if Kapp is definite about quitting the Canadian League it would be prudent of Calgary to negotiate a deal with us.”

On the rink

The Raiders and 49ers met in roller derby for a third time this spring, with the 49ers winning, 14-13.

Oakland Raiders
San Francisco Examiner

May 26, 1961

Moments after the creation of the Raiders franchise last January, rumors spread that former Cal quarterback Joe Kapp would find his way to the team somehow and today it seemed more possible than ever. Kapp had spent the last two seasons playing for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League, but today announced that he was not going to sign a contract with them for 1961, meaning that after a year of sitting out or playing out his option, he could be a free agent. He was currently recovering from off-season knee surgery.

Raider general manager Bud Hastings was on it. “Since Joe has declared his intention to leave the Canadian League,” he said, “we plan to initiate immediate negotiations with Calgary, through our league office, to get Kapp’s services.” AFL rules required that all dealings with other league’s players go through the commissioner’s office.

Kapp was interested in coming back to the States but was vague about where my might end up. “I want to make my home in California and I think I should do something now about making a future for myself here. I have several opportunities in sight and if I don’t play in Calgary this season I’ll pursue some other interest for a year.”

Oakland Tribune