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.

June 6, 1961

The Raiders’ second-round draft pick, George Fleming was in town for an extended visit prior to training camp next month. He was there to get acquainted with both the team and the local facilities of the brewing company where he had worked while attending the University of Washington in Seattle.

When asked what he thought of his chances of making the team, he said, “I feel confident that I have the ability to make any team I try for, but I know it takes an all-out effort. I picked the Raiders over the Bears—who had drafted him in the NFL—not because I felt it would be easier to play for Oakland, but because of several other factors.

“The Raiders and the American League are just getting started and have no place to go but up. I like to be in on the ground floor. My employment situation with Rainier (Brewing) is another factor. My off-season job is on the Coast and it will help me to be playing with a California team.”

While in town he would meet with Eddie Erdelatz and get a copy of the playbook. He was hoping to be ready for the first exhibition game against the Oilers. Though Fleming had been a halfback with the Huskies, Erdelatz planned to try him out at flanker.

When Fleming remarked that he probably wouldn’t be able to wear his college number, 25, because Tony Teresa had it, and worried that he might not get a number at all, Erdelatz said, “He’s a cross between Hugh McElhenny and Lenny Moore and somehow I think he’ll have a number.”

Oakland Tribune

June 1, 1961

The team finalized their preseason schedule at four games:

August 11 vs Oilers in Honolulu
August 19 vs Broncos in Spokane
August 27 vs Chargers in San Diego
September 4 vs Broncos at Kezar Stadium

The game at Kezar would be a benefit for the Children’s Hospital of the East Bay.

The team also announced they would open training camp on July 22 in Santa Cruz, last year’s site. “There is no place I’d rather train than Santa Cruz,” said Eddie Erdelatz. “The weather is ideal and we felt we had one of the finest training sites in which to work when we were there last year.”

Oakland Tribune
Salinas Californian
Santa Cruz Sentinel

 

March 19, 1961

The Raiders began a publicity blitz for their 1961 season ticket drive that would start tomorrow. Four players—Wayne Crow, Jack Larscheid, Tom Louderback, and Ron Sabal—would be the public face of the effort led by Bud Hastings and new ticket manager Al Salisbury. The team hoped to sell 15,000 tickets priced at $28.00 each and hastened to point out they were one of the few teams in pro football that didn’t require purchasers to buy preseason tickets as part of the package. For those without immediate ready cash, they were also offering an installment plan with $8.00 down and $5.00 each month until the first of August.

Another AFL stat dump

Today, the AFL released their official pass receiving numbers. Denver’s Lionel Taylor topped the list with 92 catches. The yardage title went to Bill Groman on Houston with 1,473. Art Powell of the Titans led in touchdowns with 14. The top Raider was fullback Billy Lott, whose 49 catches tied him for sixth place with Boston’s Jim Colclough.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

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

March 4, 1961

A Game in Hawaii

Raider general manager Bud Hastings announced that the team would open their 1961 preseason slate against the Houston Oilers in Honolulu. According to Scotty Stirling of the Tribune, the game was actually a gift to the Oilers players from the team’s management for winning the AFL championship and the Raiders were just lucky beneficiaries. The Oilers would open training camp in Hawaii three weeks prior to the game.

According to an Oilers official, the plan came from owner Bud Adams. “It will be a change from the hot, humid camp we had in Texas last year,” said the unnamed official, “and the trip certainly should be enjoyable to the squad.”

The Raiders had yet to schedule their other three preseason games, but said one would likely be played in Candlestick Park, another would take place in Sacramento or Stockton, and the last would probably be against the Chargers in their new San Diego home. The team was still deciding between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa for their own training camp, with Eddie Erdelatz plumping for Santa Cruz.

Contract News

Wayne Crow, who reportedly had been at odds with management over his contract for 1961, said he thought his situation, which had involved confusion or disagreement over whether offseason payments were part of his 1960 contract, said he thought things had been “straightened out.”

John Dittrich, for his part, said he was “very happy” with his new deal. Stirling reported that Marty Feldman called Dittrich the team’s best guard.

Oakland Tribune
San Mateo Times

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 10, 1960

Scotty Stirling reported in the Oakland Tribune that the team remained enthusiastic and motivated despite being eliminated from the playoffs. At the very least, players were playing for a spot on next year’s squad. With the Titans having an outside shot at catching Houston for the Eastern Division title, the Raiders could play spoiler in tomorrow’s game.

One thing the players were hoping for was that the team would make good on their promise to use a different substance to lay down the lines on the Candlestick Park field. In response to several players reporting burns after last week’s game, a team spokesperson assured players a chalk lime would be used.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune