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.”

May 29, 1961

The team announced the signing of two more players today: 6’4”, 220-pound end Earl Randolph out of Arizona State-Flagstaff (now Northern Arizona) and 6’4”, 235-pound tackle/linebacker Julius Varnado from San Francisco State.

Randolph played a variety of positions in college, including in the secondary, which is where Eddie Erdelatz wanted to try him out first. He had been in camp with the Dallas Cowboys for a while last season. Varnado was also in the Cowboys organization as their 15th-round draft pick this year, but he chose to give Oakland a try.

Raiders exonerated

Milt Woodard, assistant commissioner of the AFL, announced that the league had exonerated the Raiders of tampering chargers regarding quarterback Joe Kapp of the Calgary Stampeders. The big revelation was that these charges had been filed by the Canadian League weeks before Kapp’s recent announcement that he wouldn’t sign for 1961.

“Kapp’s statement that he would play rather than sit out a year indicates some inducement had been offered,” said Canadian League official Sid Halter. “It may not have been the general manager but it’s quite evident that Kapp was approached by someone in Oakland a long time ago.” Also named in the complaint was Calgary guard Tony Pajaczkowski, but the Raiders said that name was unfamiliar to them.

Woodard threw out the complaint, saying, “It was a rather nebulous protest and we’ve determined after an investigation that the Raider management has been complete above board in the Kapp situation and not guilty of tampering.”

Halter admitted he didn’t have solid evidence. “It’s difficult to pinpoint,” he said, “but I still feel there was some tampering going on, no doubt about it.”

Owens on Fleming

University of Washington football head coach Jim Owens though former Huskies running back and Raider second-round draft pick George Fleming was a pretty fair ballplayer.

“George Fleming will make the pro fans forget a lot of their heroes,” he said. “Here’s a (young man)[1], in my judgement who’s tailor made for professional football. He’s about as versatile an athlete as I’ve ever seen, well equipped to become a really great back in pro ball. All you have to do is watch (him)see note 1 move around a football field a little bit and you know he’s got it. He’s the kind of ball carrier who can break the back of the opposition at any moment. He’s got excellent hands as a flanked-out receiver, he’s a good defensive back and a placekicker of professional capability.”

Fleming had been drafted by the Bears, too, but Owens said, “he wants to play on the West Coast and he really wants Oakland. He feels he’ll have the opportunity to move along with a growing club that’s going to go places, where he might get lost behind a (big) name in the NFL. He started on the ground floor at Washington and grew into a great college back. He can do the same in the pro ranks. I think you’re going to like George Fleming in Oakland.”

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Examiner
San Mateo Times

[1] Substituted for the original term used, a common word used by football coaches across the country in reference to African-American players with the intent, conscious or otherwise, to infantilize them. It needs no further noting here except to say it’s no less obnoxious or racist because of it was the “style of the time.” Owens didn’t stand out from the crowd in this regard.

February 21, 1961

For the first time in history the Raiders and 49ers squared off on the field of battle. The teams met at the Alameda County Fairgrounds to play basketball in a charity event and the first round went to the NFL, with the Niners winning 65-48. The Raiders were never in it, going down 38-24 at the half. Oakland’s scoring leaders were George Fields with 14 points and Charlie Hardy with 12.

Back in the football world, the team announced the signing of three free agents: halfback Clive Bullian, center Harrison Rece, and tackle Bob Voight. Bullian, 25, at 5’10” and 190 pounds, played his college ball at San Jose State and had training camp experience with several pro teams, most recently with the Dallas Cowboys last year. Fellow Spartan Tony Teresa called him “a fine all-around ball player.”

Rece, 24, at 6’3” and 235 pounds, played at the University of Tampa before transferring to Trinity in Texas. He had also spent some time playing ball during military service.

The 23-year-old Voight, at 6’5” and 265 pounds out of Los Angeles State, had been drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 18th round after doing his own stint in the service. He was probably the best prospect of the three, having been an excellent athlete in several sports during his collegiate career.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Examiner

 

December 3, 1960

Beating the Raiders 52-28 last weekend came at a high cost for the Chargers. A pair of linebackers, Paul Maguire and Ron Botchan, were injured and Maguire was out for the rest of the season. Botchan was expected to be able to play in tomorrow’s game, but his durability was in question. To restore depth at the position, Chargers head coach Sid Gillman signed Al Bansavage off the team’s taxi squad and Chet Soda immediately cried foul.

Bansavage had been drafted by Minneapolis in November of last year and the AFL awarded his signing rights to the Raiders along with his fellow draftees. He had signed with the NFL’s Colts, but had been released. The Cowboys picked him up, but he failed the physical. At some point, Soda had offered him a contract, but Bansavage had turned it down. While on the Chargers taxi squad and not having signed an official player contract, the Raiders hadn’t said anything, but when Gillman activated him to play against Oakland, Soda wasn’t having it and lodged a protest with the league office. The Raider general manager said he expected to hear something from commissioner Joe Foss at some point later in the day.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

September 20, 1960

Still looking for the formula that would put them on the winning track, the Raiders made more roster moves today, adding linebacker Riley Morris and defensive tackle Bill Striegel. Morris, according to some reports had been signed off waivers from the Chargers as early as September 8, but had only now put in an appearance at team headquarters and was officially added to the roster.

Striegel, at 6’2″ and 235 pounds, had been a teammate of Tom Flores at the College of the Pacific and was drafted by the Eagles in 1958 in the eighth round. He missed his entire rookie season because of an injury suffered in the College All-Star Game, but appeared in all 12 games for the Eagles in 1959. Taken by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960 NFL expansion draft, he was cut by the team near the end of the preseason and subsequently picked up by the Raiders.

To make room for the two new additions, the team cut linebacker Billy Ray Locklin and defensive lineman Glenn Holtzman, who never showed up after being acquired from the Chargers two weeks ago. Locklin, signed in June, had appeared in each of the first two games, garnering three tackles and a sack to show for his efforts.

While the front office tinkered with the roster, Coach Erdelatz made some changes in the depth chart. Alan Goldstein, who had a productive day as a substitute against Dallas, was installed in the starting role at flanker, moving Tony Teresa to halfback. Teresa’s move to behind the quarterback displaced Jack Larscheid from the starting lineup.

And though the team escaped the Texans game without injury, they didn’t fare so well in today’s workout. Both defensive end Ron Warzeka and tackle Dalton Truax came up limping, Warzeka with a right ankle problem, and Truax with a pulled muscle in his right leg. Neither injury was thought to be serious and both players were expected to see action against the Oilers.

Hayward Daily Review
Monroe Morning World
Oakland Tribune
San Mateo Times