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 20, 1961

In Scotty Stirling’s piece in today’s Tribune, Eddie Erdelatz talked about the departed Billy Lott and Don Manoukian..

Erdelatz: “We’ll miss their playing ability, of course, but even more, we’ll miss their leadership. Every football team—high school, college, or pro—has one or more leaders and Manouk and Bill were ours. Some guys are natural-born leaders and when a coach has three or four of them around, he’s in clover. Sometimes it takes a while to show up, but if it’s there it usually comes out.

“We’ve got 26 new men coming into camp and maybe among that group we’ll find replacements for Manoukian and Lott. Some of the rookies were college stars and captains of their teams so you can never tell.”

July 14, 1961

The Tribune reported today that the Raiders had acquired 6’2”, 230-pound linebacker Al Bansavage from the Chargers in exchange for a “top choice” in the 1962 draft. The round was not identified in the story. Bansavage was at the center of a dispute last season between the two teams. He had been selected by Minneapolis in the first AFL draft, but was later signed by the Chargers without compensation, despite the AFL having awarded his signing rights to the Raiders. When Bansavage played in the first meeting between the two teams in November, Chet Soda petitioned the league to declare the game a Chargers forfeit. Commissioner Joe Foss conceded that the Raiders had a case but said any penalties would not include a forfeit. Eddie Erdelatz said he planned to try Bansavage on offense as a replacement for the departed Don Manoukian at guard.

July 13, 1961

John Simmonds of the Tribune reported that new Raiders Alan Miller and Dick Christy were in town ahead of the opening of training camp later this month and the pair had some nice things to say about their new teammates.

Miller: “With Jim Otto at center and John Dittrich and (the now retired) Don Manoukian at guards, the Raiders had the best offensive interior line in the league. The line can be the difference between a big gain or a loss, so you can understand why Dick and I are concerned over Don’s decision to quit the game.

And: “(Tom Flores) is well thought of all over the league. Just give him a little more experience and watch out.”

Christy: “Dittrich and Manoukian are particularly good on downfield blocking. They know just when to break upfield.”

Some other notes from Simmonds:

Miller plans to study law after his football career and is an accomplished pass catcher out of the backfield.

Christy is a speedy back who is adept at getting outside and turning the corner and will be an asset in the return game.

Miller on the comparative talent between the NFL and AFL: “There’s a couple of teams in the NFL that would lose to some of our top clubs right now. The real difference now is that there are more experienced players in the NFL but as they retire and new players take their places the quality of the two leagues will grow closer and things will even out. It’s just a matter of the AFL hanging in there for a few years. If the people will give us a hand this league will go places.”

Rumors

The Tacoma News Tribune printed a bit suggesting that former Washington State quarterback Bobby Newman “may hook on” with the Raiders. Newman was in camp with the Raiders for a few days last August before getting released.

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

April 14, 1961

Raider guard Don Manoukian ended up in the hospital after injuring his shoulder in a pro wrestling bout against John Goti in Santa Clara tonight. Diagnosed with a separated shoulder, a full recovery was expected though no timetable for his release from the hospital had been set.

Oakland Tribune

March 23, 1961

In today’s Tribune Ray Haywood’s column was all about Raider guard Don Manoukian’s other job: pro wrestler on the Texas circuit. Manoukian said the promoters tried to make him a hero at first, but inevitably the hirsute 240-pound lineman had no choice but to play the villain. Fortunately, that fit well with his day job.

“I’m spreading the the prestige and fear of the mighty Raiders via my body slams and TV appearances,” he said. “When I first got here I told everybody on TV and radio that the Raiders were Texas state champs because we beat both Dallas and Houston on our road trips. Man, that irked the natives to no end. Then, when I won the Texas heavyweight championship I wore the trophy belt upside down to remind the people what I had done to their state. The more unpopular I got, the bigger the crowds.”

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 24, 1960

The American Football League named their official all-league team today and three Raiders were included. On the first team was center Jim Otto. Making the second team were guard Don Manoukian and defensive back Eddie Macon. Selections were made by league coaches along with a handful of beat writers chosen by the league.

News of another meeting of team owners, scheduled for next week, appeared in the news today. The meeting’s agenda was, among other things, to discuss Eddie Erdelatz’s future with the team. Rumor had it that Chet Soda was planning to relinquish the role of general manager and he was quoted as saying Erdelatz “would be given every consideration” for the job.

United Press International

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”