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 19, 1961

Scotty Stirling of the Tribune reported today on a conversation with Eddie Erdelatz wherein the Raider coach gave a summary of what the team would try to accomplish in training camp.

“I had been away from pro football for almost ten years when I took the Raider job,” he said, “and a lot of things had changed. There is a great difference between college and pro football. We went along last year doing pretty much what everybody else in pro football was doing, but with that first season behind us we’re going to do more coaching and try a few things.

“We were hurt badly late in the season because of defensive weaknesses, not all of them due to personnel failures. We stayed strictly with the standard pro defense, and it just didn’t work in certain situations. Our big job at Santa Cruz and during the exhibition season will be to install a new defense. It’s almost a 100 percent change from last year, although it may not look too different to the fans. We’re still going to use the standard pro defense as a base but we’re putting in a lot of modifications to correct the soft spots.”

One thing that set an Erdelatz camp apart from that of other teams was his emphasis on having shorter practices with higher activity levels, including running everywhere during practice. “Running pays off in two ways,” he said. “First, it gets the team in shape. We had fewer injuries by far last year than any team in the league. Secondly, the constant hustling builds spirit. We had keen desire last year and it will be stronger this season. Running and hustling are the keys. The veterans know what is expected and their enthusiasm will rub off on the new men.”

Full workouts were scheduled to begin on the 24th with two-a-days until some of the early player cuts had happened. According to Erdelatz, that game the team plenty of time to prepare for the preseason opener against Houston in Honolulu on August 11. “We had the same amount of time last year,” he said, “and lost to Dallas by a touchdown, so we should be sufficiently well prepared for Houston to give them a ball game.”

Columns

Also in today’s Tribune, George Ross took Oaklanders to task for not supporting the Raiders while the team continued to work toward getting a playing site in Oakland. Ross said the team was making a good-faith effort, but that it was hindered by the lack of Oaklanders willing to cross the bay to watch the team in the meantime. To heighten the shame, he pointed to news that the Reno Chamber of Commerce had “adopted” the Raiders as the closest thing to a hometown team and that several hotels there had bought or were planning to buy blocks of season tickets to support the team.

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

March 16, 1961

The Raiders announced four free agent signings today: Bo Bankston, John Freim, Charley Moore, and Fred Tunnicliffe.

Bankston, at 5’10”, 200 pounds out of New Mexico, was signed to play defensive back. All All-Skyline Conference player for two years running with the Lobos, he tried out with the Steelers last year at linebacker, but was deemed too light to play at the position and was released prior to the season.

Freim, 23, was a 6’3”, 225-pound tackle from Adams State in Colorado. He earned Little All-America honorable mention for the Grizzlies last year.

This was Moore’s second go-round with the Raiders. The 6’4”, 220-pound tight end out of Northeastern State in Oklahoma had signed on August 2 last year, but was waived at the end of the month.

The speedy Tunnicliffe played end for UC-Santa Barbara setting NAIA records for receptions and receiving yards in a season in 1959. His head coach with the Gauchos that year was former Raider assistant Ed Cody. The 21-year-old stood 5’9” and weighed 175 pounds.

More AFL stats

The league released another batch of stats today, this time covering punt returns. Among teams, the Texans led the league with 15.0 yards per return. The Raiders were dead last at 5.8. Abner Haynes of Dallas led individuals with his 15.4 average. Jack Larscheid finished third bringing back 12 punts for 106 yards and an 8.8 average.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Examiner

March 12, 1961

The AFL began its release of official statistics for the 1960 season today and the first data dump included rushing numbers. The Texans led all teams with 1,814 yards or 129.6 per game. The Raiders finished second with 1,785 yards or 127.5 per game.

Abner Haynes of the Texans won the individual crown with 875 yards on 156 carries. Paul Lowe of the Chargers was second with 855 yards and led the league in average gain at 6.3 yards per carry. Oakland’s Tony Teresa finished fifth with 608 yards on 139 carries. Houston’s Dave Smith and Billy Cannon came in third and fourth, respectively.

Hayward Daily Review

December 19, 1960

The Raiders ownership group had their first post-season meeting and, contrary to reports, there was no shift among their membership. Chet Soda remained president and general manger of the team though he acknowledged, “in any business group there’s the possibility of a change of officers at any time.” He characterized the meeting as “affable,” and referred to the rumors of some owners selling out saying, “there was an exchange of opinion on certain matters, but it isn’t progress when you quit after putting up money to build up a business. In the clutch, I’m sure any one of the eight owners would take over and operate alone if he had to.”

At the moment, Eddie Erdelatz was still head coach, but rumors persisted that he was angling to add the GM job to his portfolio and would leave if he didn’t get it. Soda expected him to stay regardless, saying, “Eddie has a two-year contract. I’m in the construction business and I’ve always felt in business dealings, you honor your contract.” Erdelatz made no public comment.

Soda briefly addressed reports of the team’s financial losses, though he wouldn’t say whether the reported $400,000 figure was accurate. He said the losses were “not as great as anticipated and surprisingly small. If you consider the advantages Denver and Buffalo had in their operations our losses were among the lowest in the league.” He cited Denver’s ownership of their stadium and Buffalo’s small stadium rental fees as support for his claim.

Figures were released showing that for at least six of the seven home games, paid attendance was significantly less than the reported figure. Soda blamed at least some of the poor showing on the league’s television contract, complaining that only four of the seven team’s road games were shown to Bay Area fans and added, “TV could be a blessing and a poison for both us and the National League. Conflicting telecasts such as we had this season are bound to hurt everyone. The government will force both leagues to get together in all things just like the American and National baseball leagues.”

He thought an improvement in attendance in 1961 would be “automatic,” and said, “There’s no question Candlestick is the place to play in 1961. Naturally, we would prefer a stadium in the East Bay, but will wait until 1962 when the proposed Oakland stadium is completed,” and said he was “confident” a new stadium would be in place by then.

Another owners’ meeting was scheduled for later in the week.

The team also reported they had acquired guard Jack Stone from the Texans as compensation for giving up signing rights to Abner Haynes back in the spring. Stone at 6’2” and 245 pounds out of Oregon had played all 14 games for Dallas in 1960, his rookie season.

Hayward Daily Review
San Francisco Chronicle

November 27, 1960

The Raiders had a chance to put themselves in a position for the stretch run and crashed hard. In front of 15,075 fans in the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Chargers thumped the Raiders 52-28. Quarterback Jack Kemp connected for long touchdowns to Don Norton and Paul Lowe in the first quarter and the Chargers scored twice on the ground – runs by Kemp and Howie Ferguson — and kicked a field goal in the second. The Raiders scored just once on a Jetstream Smith one-yard run in the first and the teams went into the locker room at halftime with the Chargers up, 31-7. Read more “November 27, 1960”

October 28, 1960

Final statistics

On a rainy Friday night in the Big Apple, the Raiders staged a ten-point comeback in the fourth quarter to beat the New York Titans, 28-27, before 10,000 spectators at the Polo Grounds. The Raiders entered the game coming off their worst loss ever, a 38-9 beating at the hands of the Bills. At 3-4, they had fallen back to the pack after challenging the Broncos for the Western Division lead just a week ago. They did come into the game mostly healthy, though. Larry Barnes, Tom Flores, and Charley Powell had all been suffering from various forms of mild illness in recent days but would be ready to go at game time. Read more “October 28, 1960”

October 23, 1960

Final statistics

Head coach Eddie Erdelatz called it “far and away our worst performance” and he wasn’t kidding. On a damp, blustery day in Buffalo, the Bills hit on big play after big play and thumped the Raiders 38-9. The lowering, gray skies and steady light rain kept attendance down to a paltry 8,876, but those who did show up saw their team at peak performance.

The Raiders, at 3-3, came into the game as one of the hottest teams in the AFL and a win, coupled with a Boston win over the Broncos, would move them to the top spot in the league’s Western Division. The Bills, at 1-4, entered the game with the league’s top defense, but with an offense that hadn’t found much success. They had made a change at quarterback just a week ago, picking up Johnny Green, a Steelers castoff, and started him in place of Tommy O’Connell, an old Browns hand. In that game the Bills lost a tight one to the Titans, but head coach Buster Ramsey was encouraged by his play and planned to keep him in there against Oakland. Read more “October 23, 1960”

October 12, 1960

The Raiders continued to prepare for the Patriots on Sunday while sick bay continued to be well-attended. Nyle McFarlane, despite suffering a dislocated shoulder against the Texans, was expected to be ready to go, as were Charlie Hardy and Gene Prebola, both victims of muscle pulls. Less certain was the status of Tony Teresa, who was still healing from torn back cartilage, and Riley Morris, recuperating from a bruised back.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Mateo Times