February 7, 1961

Eddie Erdelatz had two spots open on his coaching staff and was hard at work trying to fill them.

“We’ve had applicants, of course,” he said, “and we are checking them out, but at this point we haven’t made a decision and the jobs are still open.”

The work of the staff continued, though, and the three men were busy watching the game film from 1960, evaluating strategy and players.

Up in the front office, acting general manager Bud Hastings was working on a preseason schedule for 1961. Adding a potential twist to his plans was news that the 49ers were planning to play just one of their five games at home in Kezar Stadium, going on the road for the other four.

Though that would give the Raiders more solo exhibition dates at home, Hastings said his team would probably play only one game at home, too, though he wasn’t committing to that plan yet.

“The primary point about playing preseason games away is the financial consideration,” he said. “If you can schedule these contests in cities or locations where there are no professional teams, generally you can count on very good interest in the one game. We’ve found that where you play seven league games at home, there’s not as much interest locally in the exhibition as there is in the league contests.”

While the 49ers plan would free up Kezar, Hastings said the team was committed to playing in Candlestick Park.

“We prefer Candlestick,” he said. “The response from a spectator’s standpoint has been very good. The fans told us the seating was much better, that the seats were much more comfortable with arm and back rests. As a matter of fact, in several recent letters from fans, quite a point was made of the comforts of Candlestick Park.”

Hastings was still waiting to hear if would get the general manager’s position on a permanent basis. The owners hadn’t made a decision yet, but signs were pointing in that direction.

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Examiner

February 1, 1961

Ernie Jorge resigned his post as offensive line coach today, citing “the length of the pro season, the number of games, and the traveling” as his reasons. He had been hired by Eddie Erdelatz last February after having served under him at the Naval Academy in the 1950s and was the first of the four assistants he hired.  Jorge said he still wanted to coach and would “listen to any and all offers.” The news left the Raiders with just two assistants, Marty Feldman and Tommy Kalmanir, following last week’s departure of Ed Cody to Washington State.

 

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

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