Wayne Valley

Francis Wayne Valley
Born March 28, 1914, Portland, Oregon
Died October 2, 1986, Piedmont, California, age 72

Wayne Valley was the primary moving force behind the Oakland Raiders during the AFL years. After Chet Soda’s departure in early 1961, Valley took the reins and made the decisions that made the Raiders a professional football power by the end of the decade. His most consequential decision, though, the hiring of Al Davis in 1963, ultimately led to the usurpation of his authority and after a bitter power struggle, he sold out just months before the team won its first Super Bowl championship.

Francis Wayne Valley was born March 28, 1914 to a schoolteacher from Maine named Abbie and her French-Canadian husband who died within a year of Valley’s birth.[1] Two years later, the widowed mother moved to Oakland with her infant son and took a teaching position at tiny Beulah Grammar School.

Wayne attended his mother’s school and as he grew up developed an aptitude for sports. After graduating from Castlemont High in 1931, he attended St. Mary’s College briefly before heading north to Oregon State Agricultural College (now Oregon State University). There, he worked as a lumberjack to earn his way through school. He hadn’t played football in high school but turned out for the Oregon State squad and played well enough to be named a team captain in 1935. For academic reasons, he later transferred to the University of Oregon where he completed his degree.

By 1940 he was married to the former Gladys Leibbrand, with whom he had four children: Patrick Wayne, Tamara, Sonya, and Michael. Following in the footsteps of an uncle who had been in the trade, Valley started a home building business in 1940 that would earn him a small fortune in the coming years. By 1960 he was “a millionaire several times over,” owned a private airplane, and Besco, his business partnership formed with a man named Jack Brooks, was building shopping centers and thousand-unit housing developments.

Almost from the beginning, he had dreamed of owning a pro football team. During the war years, he and fellow builder Ed McGah had tried unsuccessfully to buy a semi-pro team in San Francisco and later the pair tried to get involved with the All-America Football Conference 49ers, but that deal fell through, too. So, when the chance came to get an American Football League franchise for Oakland, it was only natural that Valley was in on the deal.

He was the Raiders’ vice president under Soda the first season. Arguments over how to spend money led to a major reorganization of the ownership group, resulting in five of the eight owners selling out and leaving Valley in an ascendant position. He was still vice president, under McGah, but as the only member of the group to have played the game at a high level, he tended to take the lead in controlling field operations.

Fellow owner Robert Osborne’s ill-health and arguments over keeping the team in Oakland resulted in his departure, leaving just McGah and Valley holding the reins. Two awful seasons in 1961 and 1962 almost ended with the league taking back the franchise and in a last effort to right the ship, Valley hired Chargers assistant Al Davis as head coach and general manager. Davis immediately made the Raiders a contender in the AFL west and as a result earned a reputation as a young football genius, an epithet Valley would apply to him, both in praise and in derision, over the coming decade.

With the team’s continued existence assured, Valley split time between the team and running his development business. After Davis’s brief stint as AFL Commissioner in 1966 ended with the merger, Valley and McGah welcomed him back to the Raiders as the third general partner, giving him a small piece of the team that would grow over time, and paid him a salary to take charge of football operations.

Davis slowly expanded his influence over the team, causing Valley to have some misgivings, but a tragedy in the spring of 1969 pushed all thoughts of the Raiders aside for a time. His son, Wayne Jr., who like his father had been a standout football player at Oregon State, drowned in a swimming accident. The 25-year-old had been swimming with friends in the North Santiam River in Oregon. After jumping off a rock into the water he failed to surface. It wasn’t until several days later that his body was found two miles downstream from where he went in.

When he returned to football, he continued to take an active role in league as well as team operations, serving on the NFL’s player relations committee in the early 1970s. In 1973, though, a fissure opened in the Raider partnership that would lead to Valley’s departure. According to a lawsuit Valley filed in April, McGah had signed Davis to a 20-year contract extension that would give Davis what amounted to dictatorial powers over the team’s operations. Valley argued that McGah and Davis had not informed him of the contract offer prior to Davis’s signing of it and wanted it declared invalid. Davis contended that Valley had been aware of the contract months before and McGah argued that Valley was airing dirty laundry in public, that Valley had made a mess of things when he was in charge, and that Davis was the superior choice for the position.

The suit played out in both the courts and in the public opinion arena for couple of years but was eventually decided mostly in Davis’s favor with some reduction in his powers. By then, reconciliation was impossible, and Valley sold his share back to the team in early 1976, less than a year before their first championship.

Still a wealthy man from his housing development operations, Valley spent the next couple of years trying to buy control of the ailing 49ers, but was blocked by Golden State Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli who also owned a small chunk of the Niners. A few years later, when Charlie Finley was threatening to sell the Oakland Athletics to a Denver businessman, Valley made an offer to buy the team. Davis was trying to move the Raiders to Los Angeles at the time and Finley saw the offer as Valley’s way getting under Davis’s skin and rejected it.

By now, Valley’s health was starting to decline. In the mid-60s, he had had his first surgery to treat arteriosclerosis and in 1981 he underwent heart bypass surgery. He lived a few years more, tending to his real estate ventures, but in 1986 he was diagnosed with an unspecified form of malignant cancer that was described as “fast-moving”. He died at home on October 2, survived by his wife Gladys, children Tamara, Sonya, and Michael, and seven grandchildren.

Auburn Journal
Berkeley Gazette
Corvallis Gazette-Times
Eugene Guard
Fremont Argus
Klamath News
Los Angeles Times
Medford Mail-Tribune
Oakland Tribune
Pasadena Independent Star-News
Redlands Daily Facts
Roseburg News-Review
Sacramento Bee
Salem Capital-Journal
Salem Statesman-Journal
San Bernardino County Sun
San Francisco Examiner
San Mateo Times
San Rafael Daily Independent-Journal
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Santa Rosa Press-Democrat
Stockton Independent
Ukiah Daily Journal
United States Census Bureau

[1] I couldn’t find his father’s name in any of the sources I looked at, though it seems pretty certain his father and mother were married at the time of his birth.

Chet Soda

Yster Charles Soda
Born March 15, 1908 in Oakland
Died March 12, 1989 in Oakland, age 80

For the team’s first year, Chet Soda was the face of Oakland Raider ownership. Through the ties he formed in the construction industry, Soda helped put together the coalition that would acquire the last of the American Football League’s charter franchises. Tension and disagreements among the group appeared almost from the beginning and after that first year, Soda was out, but he remained a major player in the Oakland business and sporting scene for the rest of his working life. While his tenure as Raiders owner was short, his work laid the foundation on which the team would be built at least until the coming of Al Davis.

The eldest of the three children of Andrea and Marguerite Soda, Y. Charles Soda was born in Oakland on March 15, 1908. A sister, Mary, came along a year later, and a brother, Stephen, was born in 1912. His father owned and operated a cement and construction business, and following graduation from Fremont High School, Charles joined the business, now named A. Soda and Son.

Through the 1930s and 1940s, the Sodas helped build sidewalks, sewers, and bridges in the East Bay area and grew to be quite prosperous. When Andrea died in 1948, Chet took full ownership of the company. He would be a tireless entrepreneur and administrator his whole life and when he formed H&S Developers, a housing development firm, he grew wealthier still.

By the late 1930s, he had married his wife Helen and they quickly became active in the East Bay social scene. Soda, a Catholic, took part in numerous charitable activities associated with his church and it was probably there where he made the acquaintance of many of the men who would become his partners in the Raiders venture, including Art Beckett, Charles Harney, and Ed McGah.

His interest in the sporting life started to make its appearance in the public sphere after the war. In 1948 he served a one-year stint as president of the Metropolitan Club of Oakland, a group that promoted local sports. He also owned a 2,500-acre ranch in the Hayward Hills where he and Helen bred racehorses and in 1955, he was named a director of the Golden Gate Fields racetrack in Berkeley.

So, when the opportunity came to pursue an American Football League team for Oakland, Soda was a natural fit. He, Robert Osborne, and Wayne Valley, led the effort forming the eight-man coalition that was awarded the league’s last franchise. Soda was named team president and faced the daunting task of hiring coaches and players months after the other teams in the league had begun their efforts. Within days he had hired former St. Mary’s College star Eddie Erdelatz to coach the team and together they began to build a roster.

Soon, though, dissension among the owners began to appear. Art Beckett quietly dropped out in late February and in April, restaurateur Harvey Binns followed suit more noisily, complaining that the parsimony that had served Soda well in his construction business had no place in running a football team. Despite the bickering, the Raiders fielded a competitive team in 1960, going 6-8 and avoiding the cellar that most of the nation’s sports scribes had felt was their due.

Serious divisions began to be made public in December and by January the league had to step in and adjudicate what the owners couldn’t resolve among themselves. On the 16th a settlement was announced. Soda and four of his fellows would sell their shares in the team to McGah, Osborne, and Valley. In getting out, Soda took a personal loss of about $50,000 and would never again take part in the world of pro football.

He threw himself back in the business of building shopping centers and golf courses and took part in all sorts of civic enterprises. He tried to enter politics running for a spot on the board of the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District but finished a distant second. Following that he took positions on the board of a number of public ventures including the Oakland Library and Museum Committee, the Alameda County Fair Association, and the Pacific Racing Association. He was named a regent of St. Mary’s College and in the 1970s became a vice president of the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners and the chairman of the California Horse Racing Board. By 1975 he had retired from running his businesses but still held seats on the port commission, racing board, and was president of the St. Mary’s regents.

By the end of the decade, now in his 70s, he had stepped back from public life, but began to receive a number of humanitarian awards from the community. In 1983 Helen died. They had had no children together. He remarried, to a woman named Rosemary, but in 1989 he entered the hospital for an unspecified surgical procedure, and soon after, on March 12, died at the age of 80.

Berkeley Daily Gazette
Chico Enterprise-Record
Hanford Sentinel
Long Beach Independent
Los Angeles Times
Oakland Tribune
Petaluma Argus-Courier
Sacramento Bee
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Examiner
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Santa Rosa Press-Democrat
Tulare Advance Register
Ukiah Republican Press
United States Census Bureau

Ed McGah

Edward Winston McGah
Born July 18, 1899, Alameda(?), California
Died September 17, 1983, Los Angeles, age 84

Ed McGah owned a piece of the Oakland Raiders longer than any of the other seven original owners. Described as “thoughtful” and “low-key”, he stuck with the team through internal squabbles, big financial losses, profoundly bad play, and lawsuits, and lived to see them win two Super Bowl championships.

He was the eldest of three surviving children of James and Wilhelmina McGah. Two of his siblings died in childhood and those who remained were his sisters Hildreth (born 1903) and Erol (born c.1909). His father worked variously as a longshoreman and general laborer while the kids were growing up. Ed left school after the eighth grade but was an avid young baseballer playing in amateur leagues into his 20s.

He was still living at home when he married his first wife, Gertrude, sometime around 1920. Edward, Jr., their only child, was born in 1921, and grew up to be a good enough ballplayer himself to get a cup of coffee with the Boston Red Sox in the late 1940s. Somewhere around this time Ed, Sr., took a job with the Superior Tile Company, based in Berkeley, and worked his way up to president of the firm by the mid-1930s.

Sometime before 1930, despite being Catholic, Ed and Gertrude divorced, and Ed married his second wife, Lucille. Into the thirties, he and Superior Tile took on bigger jobs, acting as a subcontractor on such projects as the Yerba Buena Tunnel on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. By the early 1940s, he had become a land developer and house builder, and was wealthy enough to try and land a semi-pro football team with fellow businessman and future Raider co-owner Wayne Valley, with the goal of getting into the NFL. Later that decade, he tried to get a piece of the San Francisco 49ers in the All-America Football Conference, but both efforts failed.

Still, he was making money. His development company built a large tract of 1,500 new homes in central Contra Costa County and joined up with a partner to from the McBail Development Company in 1949. In the 1950s, he branched out further, forming the Trancas Land Company with another business partner, and earned a spot on the board of directors of the Associated Home Builders of the Greater East Bay. One of Trancas’s biggest projects was the building of the Bel Aire Shopping Center in Napa.

Like most of his fellow owners, McGah was a social networker, holding membership in a number of clubs and taking part in various charitable activities. He was quite active in his support of the Silesian Boys Club, sitting on the board with future partners Art Beckett, Charles Harney, Robert Osborne, Wallace Marsh, and Chet Soda.

McGah finally got his chance to own a pro football franchise in 1960 when he joined the group that landed an American Football Franchise for Oakland. That first season he didn’t make a lot of noise, leaving most of the running of the team to Soda. Late in the year, though, the owners fell to fighting amongst themselves. In January 1961, with reconciliation no longer possible, five of the owners sold their shares to McGah, Osborne, and Valley, and McGah emerged as team president.

The new, streamlined partnership didn’t solve the Raiders’ money woes, though. With the team playing in San Francisco, and playing horrendous ball to boot, attendance was sparse and financial losses were expected to mount into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Late in 1961, McGah and Valley gave the city of Oakland an ultimatum: build a stadium or they would sell to a group likely to move the team to another city. Osborne, caught unawares by the announcement, swore the team wouldn’t leave Oakland, but he had had a heart attack several months ago, and unwilling to lose even more money in 1962, decided to sell his piece of the team to McGah and Valley.

Though the city finally approved the construction of a new stadium and put the team up in temporary digs at tiny Frank Youell Field, the Raiders were even worse in 1962 and again, McGah and Valley made it known that they were looking for someone to take the team off their hands. A deal to move the Raiders to New Orleans came close to fruition, but the parties couldn’t agree on a sale price, and it fell through.

Unable to find buyers, McGah and Valley agreed to play the 1963 season in Oakland and made the most momentous decision in franchise history: hiring San Diego Chargers assistant coach Al Davis as head coach and general manager. Davis immediately turned the team’s fortunes around, earning Coach of the Year honors and remaking the team in his own image. While the next two seasons weren’t quite as successful as the first, Davis was regarded as an up-and-comer and in 1966 was named AFL commissioner as the league battled the NFL for supremacy.

When the leagues agreed to a merger, McGah and Valley welcomed Davis back, not as head coach and general manager, but as “managing general partner” with an annual salary and a small share of ownership that would grow on a yearly basis. McGah and Valley took a more passive role as Davis built the team into a perennial powerhouse.

Davis’s continued success pleased McGah, but his level of team control rankled Valley. In 1973, McGah signed Davis to a 20-year contract giving him dictatorial powers over the Raiders. Valley objected, saying he hadn’t been aware of the contract prior to its signing and sued to have it declared void. McGah responded by calling the suit “ill-founded and destructive” and added that “Wayne should know he can’t run the Raiders. He made a mess of it before.”

The suit dragged on for two years before the contract was upheld in court, though the judge did reduce the scope of powers accorded to Davis in the agreement. Valley, however, had had enough and sold his share back to McGah and Davis in 1976, less than a year before the team would win its first championship.

McGah, happy with the way the team was performing, and the profits derived therefrom, let Davis alone to run the Raiders his way, even when Davis set in motion plans to move the team to Los Angeles in 1980. While commissioner Pete Rozelle and the NFL spared no effort to prevent the move, McGah, a lifelong Bay Area man, backed up his fellow owner, and moved to Los Angeles himself when his team finally started play there in 1982.

By this time, though, he was in his 80s and his health was starting to fail. In January 1983, he had surgery for “blood clots and other internal problems” and on September 17, died at Cedars Sinai hospital after what was termed “a long illness,” just four months before his team would win its third Super Bowl title in Tampa. He was 84. He was survived by his son, Ed Jr., third wife Ruth, two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.[1]

Eureka-Humboldt Standard
Los Angeles Times
Napa Valley Register
North Hollywood Valley Times
Oakland Tribune
Palm Springs Desert Sun
Sacramento Bee
San Bernardino County Sun
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Examiner
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Santa Rosa Press-Democrat
United States Census Bureau

 

[1] The last mention of his second wife, Lucille, that I could find was in the 1940 census and the first mention of Ruth was in his obituary. Lucille died in 1982, so he might have remarried soon after or they may have divorced years ago. I could find nothing to corroborate any particular chain of events.

Art Beckett

Arthur T. Beckett
Born May 23, 1894, Sacramento(?), California
Died May 19, 1978, age 83, Walnut Creek, California

Of the eight original Raiders owners, Art Beckett had the shortest tenure and was probably the least well-known. He owned a piece of the team for less than a month and after selling out, resumed his career as a building contractor without much drama.

Born on May 23, 1894, in Sacramento, to Arthur E. Beckett, an oil industry worker, and his wife, Marguerite, his family appeared to enjoy reasonably comfortable circumstances. His father eventually left the oil industry and settled in as a harbormaster at the Port of San Francisco, a position he held until his retirement. Arthur, Jr., was the oldest of three siblings that included a brother, Roy, and a sister, Marguerite.

Not much is available concerning the younger Arthur’s childhood, though two different newspapers reported that in March 1910, the 15-year-old had his bicycle stolen. Sometime around 1916, Art, now about 21, married Gertrude, 19, and by the taking of 1920 census they had a pair of daughters, Jean and Beverly. He was also the head of his own contracting firm.

A son, Thomas, was born at about that time, but in August 1921, tragedy struck the family. According to a story in the Oakland Tribune, young Thomas, listed as a two-year-old but not mentioned in the recent census, had been playing on the back porch of the family’s home in Oakland. Somehow, he got tangled up in the ropes of a porch swing and when Gertrude found him there, he was dead, presumably by strangulation.

In 1924 the couple had another son, Jack, and by the 1930 Art’s business was going strong and both husband and wife were active in Oakland’s social club scene. Beckett was also an avid fisherman if the number of stories of his exploits on the Feather River are anything to go by.

By the 1940s, he was building homes and factories in the East Bay and taking advantage of the economic boom that came with World War II. In partnership with Frederick Federighi, the business grew and by the mid-1950s they were taking on ever larger projects like the Bay Fair Shopping Center in San Leandro.

Other than regular mentions of his and his wife’s participation in various social club events, he next came to the public’s attention when he was included in a list of prospective owners of an American Football League team in Oakland on January 26, 1960. His group was awarded the team four days later, but unlike most of his partners in the endeavor he was never quoted about it. He was also absent from an ownership meeting and group photo on February 10. Soon thereafter, on the 22nd, team co-owner Robert Osborne announced that Beckett had given up his portion of the team and that his slot would be filled by Roger Lapham. And that was it. He had been a Raiders owner for roughly 24 days.

He attracted one last bit of notoriety when he battled the Internal Revenue Service over some financial maneuvers he and Federighi had undertaken in the late 1950s. The case was decided against him in 1963. Afterward, he and Gertrude continued to live their lives as they always had, running their business and taking part in club affairs, some of which included other former team owners, such as Chet Soda and Wallace Marsh.

He died in 1978 at the age of 83. He left behind his wife, three adult children, and eight grandchildren. His obituary made no mention of his one-time ownership of a share of the Oakland Raiders.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
Sacramento Bee
San Francisco Call
San Francisco Chronicle
United States Census Bureau
United States Tax Court records

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 14, 1961

A report appeared in Chicago newspapers that White Sox owner Bill Veeck had purchased the Raiders for $175,000 and planned to move them to Comiskey Park. All parties hastened to refute the story.

Veeck said the tale was “absolutely not true. I have not talked with officials of the Oakland team or any other professional football club and I don’t contemplate doing so. We would like to have a tenant for Comiskey Park in the offseason, but I wouldn’t go so far as buying Oakland to get one.”

Wayne Valley said, “We don’t know anything about that. It’s the first I’ve heard of it and it’s completely untrue. It’s a shot in the dark. If there were anything to it, I would be the first one to know.”

Chet Soda said the report was a “complete surprise to him,” though co-owner Roger Lapham said that Soda had responded positively to the rumor when he first heard it and Lapham added for himself, “You can quote me: the Raiders are for sale at the proper price.”

All this served to highlight news of continued dissension amongst the owners. Lapham said, “We’ll either resolve our problems among ourselves or sell the club before the end of the month.”

Newly installed team president Ed McGah acknowledged there were disagreements but thought they “should see it through at least the second year, as we agreed.” He admitted some of the owners wanted to sell out and that other owners had offered to buy them out, but in any event the team would stay in Oakland. “Bob Osborne, for one, is too civic-minded to let (a move) happen and our pre-incorporation articles state that no one can sell any part of his stock without the unanimous approval of the other owners.”

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

January 4, 1961

According to Scotty Stirling in the Oakland Tribune, the anticipated shakeup among the Oakland Raider ownership had begun, with Ed McGah, Robert Osborne, and Wayne Valley assuming more dominant roles. As an interim measure, McGah was named president with Bud Hastings taking the post of acting general manager.

Valley said, “We met for three hours and named McGah president and appointed Bud acting general manager. That was the heart of the meeting. We haven’t had time to think about filling the general manager’s job on a permanent basis because right now we are more concerned with signing some of our top draftees.” The team hadn’t ruled out removing the “acting” from Hastings’ job title at some point.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
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

November 23, 1960

A story by Scotty Stirling appeared in today’s Oakland Tribune that was probably, in part, a response to yesterday’s piece in the San Francisco Chronicle criticizing the Raiders’ front office. Addressing rumors that the team would force Chet Soda out of the general manager’s role, to be replaced by Robert Osborne and Wayne Valley, an unidentified owner said it wasn’t true. “We met just ten days ago and gave Soda a vote of confidence,” said the owner. “It would take a majority vote to force Soda out of his position and Chet is held in high regard by at least five of the eight voting owners. There may be some unhappiness with a couple of the owners, and it has become fashionable now to blame Soda for every little thing that goes wrong with the Raiders.

“It’s terrible when you think we have a club that is right in the thick of the title fight and something like this comes up. The only important thing is what the club does on the field and right now we are in a position to pick up all the marbles. I think it’s a tribute to Erdelatz and the team that they perform as well as they do with all this business about the front office continually in the papers.”

The story pointed out that Soda’s position was meant to be temporary and that Eddie Erdelatz was expected to take on the role at some point. Soda was not being compensated for his work and put in as many as twelve hours a day running the team, though he had started to delegate more responsibilities to his assistant, Bud Hastings. According to Stirling, Soda had had enough of the job, but wouldn’t be forced out and would leave on his own terms.

Soda, so far, had refused to comment on the rumor, saying, “Sunday we play in Los Angeles in a game that could put us in a first-place tie. That, and only that, is the number one thing on my mind right now.”

The piece also discussed rumors that Erdelatz was looking for a way out, but the same unidentified owner said the Raider coach had expressed some dissatisfaction with the way the team was run but had never been heard to say he wanted to leave.

In less dramatic news, the Raiders announced they had taken halfback Bobby Crespino out of Mississippi with their sixth-round pick in the draft.

Oakland Tribune

November 11, 1960

Just yesterday the team said defensive end Charley Powell was unlikely to play on against the Bills, but today trainer George Anderson said Powell had responded to treatment and would be ready to go on Sunday. “Charley has that good attitude and wants to play,” said Anderson, “and that always helps in injuries.” Fellow lineman Ramon Armstrong and guard Wayne Hawkins were pronounced fully recovered from recent ailments and would be on the field, too.

Eddie Erdelatz was pleased with the way his team had been looking in practice this week. “They appear more ready for this game than for any other in recent weeks,” he said. “I think revenge has a lot to do with it. The Bills did a pretty good job on us in Buffalo and the kids want to make up for it, both for the fans and for themselves.”

While the focus had again turned toward on the field matters, the stadium talk was still going on in the background. A divide was beginning to appear between those who favored an Oakland site and those who wanted more consideration to be given to south county sites. Francis Dunn, the chairman of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors acknowledged the challenge of getting a non-Oakland site approved. “Under the proposed financing, with Oakland and the county backing a loan from private financial sources to construct a stadium,” he said, “I doubt if anything farther south than Hegenberger would be accepted unless it were a great deal cheaper.”

Team co-owner Robert Osborne insisted “nothing specific has been settled on that. We will peruse all possible sites throughout the county. In fact, my heart is in your area (South Bay). I’d hate to believe that there would be less cooperation from those whose cities were not picked. This should be looked at from the broad viewpoint.”

San Leandro mayor JD Maltester seemed to be on board with the cooperative model. “I have no particular area in mind,” he said, “whether it be Hayward, San Leandro, or Fremont. Our only possible site is in the Trojan Powder Words area fronting on the bay, but I believe Hayward has several possible places. It’s important that the two cities work together. Certainly, there wouldn’t be any squabbling between us.”

In the end, though, Dunn was plumping for an Oakland site. “A multi-purpose stadium such as this would be a tremendous asset to the entire community. There are many things it could be used for, such as expositions. I hope people at our end of the county get behind the project. Personally, I favor the Hegenberger site. It is centrally located within the county, has as good a weather as anywhere west of the hills, has access to freeways, and is fairly close to the airport.”

Osborne said the team hoped that the project would be complete and ready for occupancy by 1962.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune