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 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 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

December 28, 1960

Both the Associated Press and United Press International announced their all-AFL teams today and several Raiders found themselves named.

Center Jim Otto made AP first-team and UPI second-team. Defensive back Eddie Macon was picked first-team by the UPI but wasn’t mentioned by the AP. Defensive back Joe Cannavino and linebacker Bob Dougherty made second-team UPI. Honorable mentions for the AP were guard John Dittrich, linebacker Tom Louderback, guard Don Manoukian, and defensive end Charley Powell. Dittrich was also a UPI honorable mention as was fullback Billy Lott.

Associated Press
United Press International

December 14, 1960

With the season winding down over the next few days there wasn’t much news coming out of Raider headquarters. The team did say today that both Alan Goldstein and Charley Powell, who had been injured in the Titans game, would be able to suit up and play against the Broncos this Saturday.

Hayward Daily Review
San Francisco Chronicle

December 11, 1960

The  5-7 Raiders came back from ten points down to take the lead in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold on as the 6-6 Titans scored late and won 31-28 at Candlestick Park. The weather was mild but with the team out of the running a disappointing crowd of only 9,037 showed up to watch an exciting game.

The Titans came roaring out of the tunnel and dominated the first quarter. On the second play from scrimmage Art Powell went long, caught Al Dorow’s pass at the Oakland 40, and dodged various members of the Raider secondary for a 73-yard touchdown. While the Raider offense stumbled repeatedly, the Titans entered Oakland territory twice more and only Bill Shockley’s errant kicking foot kept his team from expanding their lead further.

It wasn’t until just before the end of the quarter that the Raider found their sea legs and embarked a ten-play drive resulting in Nyle McFarlane’s nifty 14-yard touchdown catch of a Tom Flores pass to even the score. The Titans responded to that bit of spirit by driving 89 yards in return, scoring on Dorow’s 12-yard keeper up the middle. Neither team accomplished much more before the half, though the Titans did get Shockley another chance on the last play. John Harris blocked his 31-yard field goal attempt and the Raiders were down just 14-7 at the interval despite a subpar effort. Read more “December 11, 1960”

December 4, 1960

And just like that, the Raiders’ playoff hopes were gone. After three quarters, they were clinging to a three-point lead, but the Chargers exploded for 27 points in the final 15 minutes and clinched at least a tie for the AFL Western Division with a 41-17 win.

The rain that had fallen in the Bay Area for most of the last week had tapered off a couple of days before the game, but the field was still a little soft and uncertain. The largest home crowd since the season opener, 12,061, showed up for the first football game ever played at Candlestick Park.

A scoreless first period was followed by a quick exchange of scores early in the second. The Chargers broke the ice first when Jack Kemp threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Royce Womble. The Raiders returned the favor on Billy Lott’s two-yard run. Late in the period Tom Flores connected with Charlie Hardy for a 10-yard touchdown and Kemp threw to Don Norton for a 21-yarder. The teams were tied at 14 at the half. Read more “December 4, 1960”

November 11, 1960

Just yesterday the team said defensive end Charley Powell was unlikely to play on against the Bills, but today trainer George Anderson said Powell had responded to treatment and would be ready to go on Sunday. “Charley has that good attitude and wants to play,” said Anderson, “and that always helps in injuries.” Fellow lineman Ramon Armstrong and guard Wayne Hawkins were pronounced fully recovered from recent ailments and would be on the field, too.

Eddie Erdelatz was pleased with the way his team had been looking in practice this week. “They appear more ready for this game than for any other in recent weeks,” he said. “I think revenge has a lot to do with it. The Bills did a pretty good job on us in Buffalo and the kids want to make up for it, both for the fans and for themselves.”

While the focus had again turned toward on the field matters, the stadium talk was still going on in the background. A divide was beginning to appear between those who favored an Oakland site and those who wanted more consideration to be given to south county sites. Francis Dunn, the chairman of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors acknowledged the challenge of getting a non-Oakland site approved. “Under the proposed financing, with Oakland and the county backing a loan from private financial sources to construct a stadium,” he said, “I doubt if anything farther south than Hegenberger would be accepted unless it were a great deal cheaper.”

Team co-owner Robert Osborne insisted “nothing specific has been settled on that. We will peruse all possible sites throughout the county. In fact, my heart is in your area (South Bay). I’d hate to believe that there would be less cooperation from those whose cities were not picked. This should be looked at from the broad viewpoint.”

San Leandro mayor JD Maltester seemed to be on board with the cooperative model. “I have no particular area in mind,” he said, “whether it be Hayward, San Leandro, or Fremont. Our only possible site is in the Trojan Powder Words area fronting on the bay, but I believe Hayward has several possible places. It’s important that the two cities work together. Certainly, there wouldn’t be any squabbling between us.”

In the end, though, Dunn was plumping for an Oakland site. “A multi-purpose stadium such as this would be a tremendous asset to the entire community. There are many things it could be used for, such as expositions. I hope people at our end of the county get behind the project. Personally, I favor the Hegenberger site. It is centrally located within the county, has as good a weather as anywhere west of the hills, has access to freeways, and is fairly close to the airport.”

Osborne said the team hoped that the project would be complete and ready for occupancy by 1962.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

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

November 5, 1960

By the time the team arrived home on the overnight flight from Boston, most of their anger and frustration at losing to the Patriots had turned to renewed confidence and optimism. With five games left to play, Jack Larscheid reflected the mood of his team saying, “We’ll just have to win those five games if we want to be in contention.”

Eddie Erdelatz, who was a man of few words last night, had bounced back as well. “They made mistakes which were very costly,” he said, “but I had to feel proud the way they fought back right down to the gun.”

Ramon Armstrong, who became ill after the game, continued to be treated for the flu and was expected to be at full strength by next weekend. The news was less certain about Charley Powell. Trainer George Anderson diagnosed the injury as bruised ribs, and if so, Powell would play against Buffalo, too, but until the x-rays came back, nothing was known for sure.

While the players began a three-day vacation from work granted by the coaching staff, the conflict among the ownership group continued to reverberate. Following the rift that had appeared between those who thought it might be necessary to move the team and those who believed in Oakland for the long haul, an Associated Press story reported that the ownership group’s losses might reach $400,000 for the season, or an average of $50,000 per owner.

Oakland Tribune
San Rafael Independent-Journal