January 12, 1961

San Francisco Chronicle scribe Darrell Wilson wrote about the Raiders’ poor luck signing draft choices. Except for a couple of late round picks, the team had announced no other agreements. Of the first six choices, five had signed elsewhere: Joe Rutgens with the Redskins, Myron Pottios with the Steelers, Elbert Kimbrough with the Rams, Dick Norman with the Bears, and Bobby Crespino to the Browns. Only their second-round pick, George Fleming, had yet to sign and the Raiders were still hoping to nab him.

Player personnel director Wes Fry hastened to say the team had “signed about seven players. We’ll make the announcement soon. I think we’ll do a lot better from here on in. Things are looking up. As a whole, the AFL is doing a pretty good job. Of the league’s first 100 draft choices, we definitely have signed 29 and have lost 24 to the NFL and 3 to Canada. Of the first 50, we’ve signed 15 and have lost 15 to the NFL.”

Head coach Eddie Erdelatz, upon hearing that his team had signed seven players, asked, “Have we? Are they drafted players?” He said he wasn’t complaining, but said, “Any coach would be unhappy to lose five of the first six draft choices. We’ll be very happy to sign anybody. However, it’s really not my place to talk about these things. Ask the club officials.”

San Francisco Chronicle

January 2, 1961

In news that was not unexpected, Chet Soda stepped down as president and general manager of the Raiders today. “I have contemplated this move for some time,” he said. “I expect to stay with the organization and have no immediate plans to sell my holdings in the Raiders.” He said he had twice tried to resign earlier, but the board of directors had talked him out of it each time. There was no comment from the other owners and both Robert Osborne and Wayne Valley said they hadn’t heard of his decision until reporters tried to reach them for comment. “I haven’t been to my office in three days,” said Osborne. “The letter of resignation could be in the mail on my desk.”

No successor was named, but Eddie Erdelatz quickly removed himself from the running. “I am not old enough to quit coaching,” he said. “I don’t think any man could handle both the coaching and the business end of the Raiders. It is too much for one man in a new organization. I want it known that I’m still working for the Raiders and intend to continue as coach.” With no word from the owners and Erdelatz’s lack of interest, assistant general manager Bud Hastings was thought to have the inside track for the position.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

December 29, 1960

Eddie Erdelatz finished second in the balloting for AFL coach of the year conducted by the United Press International. Voting was performed by 24 league writers with Houston’s Lou Rymkus getting nine votes to win. Erdelatz received six votes. The Chargers’ Sid Gillman finished in third with five votes and New York’s Sammy Baugh got two votes for fourth.

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 21, 1960

The owners met again today but no significant decisions were made. Afterward, Chet Soda was asked about the general manager position. “I haven’t decided,” he said. “I have neglected my business in the past year and I never intended to remain permanently in the position. We’re going to make a decision pretty soon.”

Speculation continued that Eddie Erdelatz either was going to be offered the job or wanted the job and would leave if he didn’t get it. Soda commented first by saying he didn’t think one person could have handled both the head coach and general manager jobs in the first season. He then said “I asked him (Erdelatz) about the things I had read, and he said he had read them also but that was all he knew about it. All I know is we have a contract. Eddie has never told me he does not want to coach our club in 1961. That’s the way it stands now.”

Bakersfield Californian
Eureka-Humboldt Times
San Francisco Chronicle

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

December 17, 1960

The Raiders saved their best for last, turning in a dominating performance, including 31 fourth quarter points, to beat the Broncos 48-10.

The morning’s discovery of damage to Candlestick Park’s goal posts led to some frantic activity, but repairs were completed by game time. The Broncos came to town with a 4-8-1 record and had gone seven games without a win. The Raiders at 5-8, with a three-game losing streak of their own, needed a win here to avoid the Western Division basement. With these modest stakes on the line a crowd of just 5,159 showed up to see the locals end the season in style.

After the Oakland defense forced a three-and-out on the opening drive, Tom Flores and the offense moved to the Denver 11 in 12 plays where Larry Barnes opened the scoring with an 18-yard field goal. Later in the period, the Broncos evened the score with a 37-yarder from Gene Mingo. Babe Parilli replaced Flores after that but couldn’t get his team in the end zone. Eddie Erdelatz sent Flores back in with about five minutes to go in the second and the team promptly responded going five plays to score, with Flores getting the last few inches on a sneak. Read more “December 17, 1960”

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 8, 1960

Despite his team’s elimination from the championship hunt, Eddie Erdelatz still had personnel choices to make. After the release of Al Hoisington, Charlie Hardy was having to play virtually the entire game at receiver as the team had no designated backup at his position. As a remedy, Erdelatz planned to use John Harris on offense for the first time this year. Harris would still get his snaps in on defense but would spell Hardy periodically in the last two games of the season.

The Raider coach also said he was reducing practice time to an hour each day. “The players are in great physical shape and they know the plays backward and forward by this time, so I can’t see any reason for lengthy practices.”

In the front office, rumors of discord among the owners continued to brew. The latest topic was ticket prices for 1961. Chet Soda acknowledged that the team had discussed reducing prices for next year, though he said, “I personally do not think it’s necessary.” Addressing talk that there would be a change at general manager, he added, “It’s been mostly palaver up to now. There’s been a lot of talk and no changes yet, you’ll notice.” So far, the other owners had continued to refer all questions about the running of the team to Soda.

Soda also weighed in on Joe Foss’s decision yesterday regarding Al Bansavage. “It was a positive infraction,” he said, “What the penalty should be, I don’t know. But it should be a really stiff one to teach everyone in the league, ourselves included, that we can’t just go ahead and do as we please.”

Soda had good things to say about the team’s first experience at Candlestick Park. “The main thing we were concerned with was the wind factor,” he said, “but that doesn’t appear to be a problem this time of year. I think Candlestick is a very, very good place to play football. The visibility was outstanding. It certainly is a better spot than Kezar.” As far as continuing there next year, he said, “That decision has not definitely been made but we don’t have much choice.” The only negative that had appeared so far was a number of players complaining about burns they received from the lime used to mark the lines on the field.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

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”