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.”

May 13, 1961

The Raiders and 49ers met in a roller derby rematch at the Oakland Auditorium with the Niners coming out on top, 21-15. This evened the series at one match apiece. The teams previously met April 28 with the Raiders winning 37-36. Hugh McElhenny led all scorers with seven points. Wayne Crow’s four points was tops among Oakland players.

Oakland Tribune

April 28, 1961

The AFL announced the 1961 schedule today and Raiders coach Eddie Erdelatz responded by saying, “At least we’ll find out real quick just how big a job we’ll have in front of us.” His team would open the season on the road against last year’s title game participants in consecutive weeks. The dates for the final two games were still undecided though the opponents were locked in.

September 9, at Houston
September 17, at San Diego
September 24, vs Dallas

October 1, vs Denver
October 15, at Denver
October 22, vs San Diego
October 29, vs New York

November 5, at Buffalo
November 13, at New York
November 17, at Boston
November 26, at Dallas

December 3, vs Buffalo
December 9 or 10, vs Boston
December 16 or 17, vs Houston

Raiders on wheels

After a pair of defeats on the basketball court, the Raiders finally bested the 49ers, outscoring them 37-36 on the roller derby rink. Tom Flores, not mentioned when the rosters were announced a couple of weeks ago, led all skaters with 13 points.

Oakland Tribune

March 15, 1961

In the rematch of a game held January 21, the 49ers beat the Raiders, 66-44, in a basketball game played at the Oakland Auditorium as part of an Easter Seals benefit. The Niners led 27-21 at halftime and San Francisco tackle John Thomas led all scorers with 20 points. Charlie Hardy and Jetstream Smith shared honors for the Raiders at 8 points apiece. The 49ers won the first game 65-48. 

In the Front Office 

The Raiders appointed former University of California ticket department employee Al Salisbury as their ticket manager replacing Everitt Nevin, who had been employed on a commission basis since last October. 

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Examiner 

March 9, 1961

The Raiders and 49ers announced plans to meet again on the basketball court on March 15 at the Oakland Auditorium as part of a benefit for the Easter Seals Society. The teams met previously on February 21 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, with the 49ers winning, 65-48.

The Raiders squad, coached by Tom Louderback, would consist of the following players:

Wayne Crow
George Fields
Tom Flores
Charlie Hardy
John Harris
Jack Larscheid
Jetstream Smith
Tony Teresa
Ron Warzeka

The 49ers were coached by Gordy Soltau and would feature these players:

John Brodie
Ted Connolly
Clyde Connor
Matt Hazeltine
Ed Henke
RC Owens
Bob St Clair
John Thomas
YA Tittle
Billy Wilson

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

March 7, 1961

George Hower, Jr.’s column in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat included details of his conversation with Tom Louderback over the Tribune’s report of a contract beef. According to Hower, Louderback was “distressed” and said he had “never experienced a cut.”

“It’s surprising,” Louderback said, “because the coaches thought I had a good year. I played every game…which I thought would entitle me to an automatic raise.” He said he missed just five minutes out of a single game when he had the wind knocked out of him. Hower said the current dispute was over “special provisions,” though Louderback wouldn’t give details.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Wayne Valley

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

Father
Daniel J Valley (1885?-1916?)
bartender, liquor dealer

Mother
Abbie Louise Valley (Conlogue) (1881-1958)
schoolteacher

Education
Castlemont High School
St Mary’s College
Oregon State College
University of Oregon

Wife
Gladys L Leibbrand (1906-1998)
married 1940

Children
Patrick Wayne (1943-1969)
Tamara (1945-)
Sonya (1946-1995)
Michael

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 not long after Valley’s birth. 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.

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