January 27, 1961

Today the Raiders announced their biggest signing of the offseason so far, inking halfback George Fleming to a contract. From the University of Washington, Fleming was the team’s second-round pick and the sixth-round pick of the Chicago Bears. To convince him to sign with Oakland, Eddie Erdelatz traveled to Seattle to speak with him in person. After the deal was announced, the Raider head coach was “elated.” “Needless to say, we’re very pleased to sign our number two draft choice,” he said. “He’s an outstanding football player and I’m confident he’ll see plenty of action with the Raiders. We plan to use him as a flanker back and also expect to utilize his ability as a placekicker. He’ll help us in several spots.”

Fleming had played quarterback with the Huskies and had been named co-outstanding player in the 1960 Rose Bowl.

In other news, supporters of a multi-purpose stadium in Oakland received encouraging news. Word came out that the American League had identified Oakland as likely site for Major League Baseball expansion by 1964. In response, the chair of the Oakland Coliseum Committee, Robert Nahas, responded by saying, “This gives us a great impetus to proceed with all speed along the lines we are now pursuing with the construction of an all-purpose stadium.” The committee was, at present, trying to fill out the directorship for the non-profit corporation tasked with getting the project underway.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 23, 1961

The Raider coaching staff found itself down a member when secondary coach Ed Cody announced his resignation to take a post under Jim Sutherland at Washington State University. In addition to his coaching duties he would be in charge of recruiting in Southern California for the Cougars. “I’ve been anxious to return to college football for some time now and I consider this an unusually fine opportunity,” he said. “It is with regret that I leave the Raiders and head coach Eddie Erdelatz.”

Hired on May 4, Cody had been the last addition to Erdelatz’s staff and took charge of a unit that lacked speed and occasionally found itself burned by strings of big plays, but also had a keen nose for the ball as exemplified by Eddie Macon’s nine interceptions. Erdelatz couldn’t be reached for comment, but acting general manager Bud Hastings said, “Cody has been a most valuable member of our organization and we accepted his resignation with regret. We wish him well.”

Erdelatz was now tasked with finding two new assistants, one to replace Cody and one to replace line coach Ernie Jorge, who had suffered a heart attack in September and hadn’t coached since. Jorge had recovered and was recently seen speaking at a banquet, but there was no word about his returning to the sideline.

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 15, 1961

It took a seven-hour meeting and intervention by AFL commissioner Joe Foss, but the long-rumored ownership shakeup finally happened.

The day started with the eight owners getting together to try and resolve the mutual antipathies that had built up among the various group cliques. Three hours in and with nothing settled, Foss arrived in person with a pair of league lawyers.

As Foss explained, behavior at recent league meetings had shown that “all was not well in Oakland. It was decided then that I should come to Oakland for the meeting. I was authorized to take away the franchise if the problems couldn’t be worked out. I got here after the men had been in session for three hours and had reached an impasse.” Everyone agreed they wanted to keep the team in Oakland, but Foss said, “they just couldn’t get along and it was obvious one group had to sell out. For the next four hours, I and the league attorneys listened to both sides of the argument and finally a sale agreement was reached. Everyone in the league feels that Oakland can become one of our great franchises.”

It was decided that Don Blessing, Charles Harney, Roger Lapham, Wallace Marsh, and Chet Soda would sell their shares to Ed McGah, Robert Osborne, and Wayne Valley. McGah would retain his position as president, with the vice presidency going to Valley, and Osborne assuming the treasurer role.

Afterward, Valley said, “The three of us have wanted all along to proceed in Oakland. We are all East Bay businessmen and we feel that we can succeed.” Asked about rumors that the team would pursue austerity, he added, “We want to win, and we are businessmen, and within those confines we shall move forward. We have lots of things to look into and personnel to evaluate. This is not to say that we are unhappy with the people we now have.”

One of those people was Eddie Erdelatz who, responding to the news that the team would stay in town, said it was “one of the greatest things to happen to the city of Oakland. We will make every effort to field a team Oakland can be proud of next season. The American League has shown what it can do on the field. Our fans were pleased with the wide-open style of play and I feel we’ll have much larger crowds next year.”

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

 

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”