February 3, 1961

The word made the rounds today that ex-49er halfback Hugh McElhenny could be in a Raider uniform for the 1962 season. One of the NFL’s top breakaway threats during his nine-year tenure in San Francisco, he had slowed down the last couple of years and was traded to the expansion Minnesota Vikings last week. Now, with the change, he was taking stock of his football future, considering whether it was time to play out his option this season or quit altogether. If he played out his option, he would be free to sign with anyone in 1962 and that’s where the Raiders came in.

When asked about the possibility, he said it “would really be a great idea if it could be worked out, but the chances seem remote.”

Raider officials were quick to point out they had nothing to do with the rumors.

“We haven’t talked to him,” said acting general manager Bud Hastings. “We can’t under league rules against tampering with players in the other two leagues. It carries a $5,000 fine. We can only negotiate with free agents.”

Player personnel director Wes Fry echoed his boss’s thoughts. “It’s against the AFL constitution,” he said, “and we simply don’t tamper. Of course, if McElhenny did play out his option and then came around, we wouldn’t drive him from the door.”

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

December 25, 1960

The Raiders had yet to sign any of their draft picks and it was reported that two of them had signed with other teams. Quarterback Dick Norman of Stanford, the team’s fifth-round pick signed with the Bears, who had drafted him as a redshirt choice last year in the fifth round. Another Stanford product, tackle Dean Hinshaw, signed with the 49ers, a 13th-round redshirt pick last year. He had been chosen in the 26th round this year by the Raiders.

San Francisco Chronicle

November 17, 1960

Chet Soda announced that the Raiders would likely play their final three home games in Candlestick Park. Moving from Kezar Stadium would solve two problems. The first problem was a December 11 game against the Titans. The 49ers were scheduled to play on the 10th and if it rained, the field would be a mess without any time for the groundskeeping crew to perform repairs. Additionally, this would allow the team to move the season finale, currently scheduled for Friday night on the 16th, to a Saturday afternoon start on the 17th. The Raider had long wanted to make this move, believing that damp, foggy nights in San Francisco significantly depressed attendance. An agreement between Kezar and the 49ers prevented the Raiders from playing within 24 hours before a 49er game and the 49ers had a game scheduled for the 18th.

Walter Haas, president of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission said, “if the Raiders meet the conditions, we very likely would have no objections.” The conditions were as follows: the Raiders would pay the commission 10% of gate receipts with a minimum $2,500 payout per game. The team would be responsible for converting the field from baseball to football and back to baseball again after the season.

Several configurations were under consideration, with the preferred alignment being to run the field along the left field foul line. No consensus had been reached on which seats would be sold, but the Raiders suggested up to 28,000 seats would be available. Assistant general manager Bud Hastings said season ticket holders would be given priority seating and would not have to exchange tickets.

San Francisco Giants president Chub Feeney was amenable, suggesting the move would reduce his team’s financial obligation to the city. The commission was scheduled to meet on the 23rd to make a final decision on the plan.

The plan would be in place for 1960 only, but Soda said, “the possibility exists the Raiders will continue to play at Candlestick in 1961. However, at the end of the season, we will take a good, long look at any and every playing site possibility. Candlestick is not necessarily the answer for 1961.”

In league news, commissioner Joe Foss said the first six rounds of the college draft would take place by telephone on the weekend of November 19-20. Results would be announced on Monday, the 21st. The remaining 24 rounds would take place sometime in December. Team order would be based on current records, with the Raiders drafting in the fifth spot.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

November 12, 1960

Chet Soda was pissed. The Raiders’ rivalry with the 49ers and with the NFL in general had been not much more than background noise to this point, but when Soda learned that two NFL games would be broadcast in the area tomorrow in the morning before the Raiders’ afternoon game with the Bills, he was ready to speak up.

“That’s an illegal sneak punch,” he complained, “an outright war via television. It is added evidence that the National League is thumbing its nose at the anti-trust law. It is doing everything it can to kill the chances of a rival enterprise. This is in direct violation of the anti-trust laws under which professional football was explicitly placed by Supreme Court decisions. What excuse can the NFL offer in a court of law for a thing like this.”

Though the games – Rams vs Lions and Colts vs Bears – wouldn’t start at the same time as the Raider game, they would likely extend long enough that local viewers wouldn’t have time to get to Kezar following the end of those games. This would be, reportedly, the first time more than one NFL game would be broadcast in the area on a given Sunday. Notably, neither game involved the 49ers, who were off this weekend. Soda said he would lodge a formal protest with AFL commissioner Joe Foss.

Hayward Daily Review

November 9, 1960

The news that the Raiders would not be moving to San Leandro was something of a disappointment to Kezar Stadium administrators, who were struggling to keep the field in good shape with both the Raiders and 49ers playing on it. Said one unnamed department head, “If it rains before, during, or after the 49er/Green Bay game on December 10, the field will be ruined by the Raiders/Titans game December 11. We spent a lot of time and money to re-seed Kezar this spring and it could be wrecked in 27 hours.”

People were trying to come up with something, though. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Oakland City Council met long enough to agree to a more detailed meeting on the 22nd to discuss an Oakland stadium. Much of the discussion concerned making sure all affected parties would be represented in future confabs. To that end, a trio of county supervisors wanted to invite more non-Oakland interests. Robert Nahas, a recent president of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, pushed back against the argument, saying that, because of Oakland’s outsized tax base within the county, the relative cost burden between city and county wouldn’t be 50/50, but would be closer to 69/31. Nevertheless, the next meeting would include several Alameda County mayors, Chambers of Commerce members, and some state legislators, along with “representatives of the area’s educational institutions.”

In the meantime, the team was still trying to improve their home draw and announced they would be offering $2.50 general admission end zone seats for the Bills game, but only for tickets purchased on game day. This news came out at roughly the same time as a report in The Sporting News revealing actual paid attendance for three games that differed from the official reports: September 11 vs Houston, 8,873 paid, 12,703 reported; September 16 vs Dallas, 7,105 paid, 8,021 reported; October 16 vs Boston, 10,151 paid, 11,500 reported. The same piece reported that the Raiders’ share of the league’s television deal earned them $190,000 while their player payroll totaled $350,000 and their coaches payroll was $65,000.

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle
The Sporting News

September 22, 1960

The Raiders were heading to Houston tomorrow and Eddie Erdelatz had something to get off his chest before they did. “It’s unfortunate a team in our position was scheduled against the two best teams in four of the first five games,” meaning Dallas and Houston.

“Because of our late start, we are still trying to place our personnel while almost every other team in the league has been set for weeks. Sometimes you have to experiment quite a lot before you find the right man for the right spot, and it is even more difficult with us because we are still trying to help ourselves with cuts from other teams.

“We’ve had quite a turnover in personnel and it isn’t finished yet, so you can see that we have problems in addition to the routine work involved in preparing for a football game each week. Take Dallas and Houston, for instance. They were two of the first teams in the league and they have top personnel. They knew pretty well what their players could do before training opened, and they have gone pretty much with the same units since early in the exhibition season.

“Most of our players were complete strangers, so it was a matter of slowly grading them to find out just who could do what. Now, it is almost like going back into training camp when we pick up new players. We have to first find out if they can play football then teach them to play our way. It puts an added burden on the coaches and the squad because you can’t concentrate on simply preparing for next week’s opponent.”

The roster experimentation continued today with another move. The team signed 5’10”, 185-pound halfback Bob Keyes. Keyes, who played his college ball for Antelope Junior College and the University of San Diego, had previously been in camp with the 49ers, but had been cut by them a little over a week ago. To make room for Keyes, the Raiders released defensive back LC Joyner. On the team since April, Joyner had looked pretty good in the preseason and had started the opener against Houston, but became expendable in the interim.

There was also a report in the Hayward Daily Review that Babe Parilli would start at quarterback in place of Tom Flores, but the piece didn’t identify a team source for the information and no mention of the switch was found in the other area papers.

While last minute preparations for travel were underway, the team was hit hard by the sobering news that offensive line coach Ernie Jorge had suffered a heart attack sometime during the evening. Erdelatz reported that his long-time assistant was expected to make a full recovery but would likely be bedridden for more than a month in the meantime.

Billings Gazette
Farmington Daily Times
Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

February 1, 1960

Two days after Oakland had won a pro football franchise, stories about how it all happened were still coming out. Most of the new owners were rival building contractors who decided to pool their funds and buy a piece of pro sports. There were also two unidentified “silent partners” involved, with the level of their support and involvement also unknown. All agreed with reports that it wouldn’t have happened without an ultimatum to the league from Los Angeles Chargers owner Barron Hilton and the urging of his general manager Frank Leahy.

As the dust from the announcement settled, there was a huge list list of chores facing ownership, first among them, finding a general manager and head coach.

In response to press speculation that former Navy coach Eddie Erdelatz or recently-retired Red Sox outfielder Jackie Jensen, both Bay Area natives, were among those under consideration for various posts, Robert Osborne said, “It is utterly ridiculous at this point to start a guessing game because we haven’t even held our first organizational meeting. We will gather together as a group for the first time late this afternoon to discuss all our problems, not just the business of a general manager and a coach.”

At that meeting, attended by seven of the eight owners, the group named Chet Soda chairman of the board and hoped to take a methodical approach to putting together a staff.

“Getting a general manager is our first job,” said Soda. “We can’t do much talking about players or a coach until we do that.” He added, “I hope we’ll be able to name the man or at least give some indication of when we can do so after our next meeting.” The team planned to get outside help in vetting candidates.

With the league’s draft already two months past, the team would have to scramble to find enough decent players to be competitive. It was unclear whether the team would acquire the rights to any of the players drafted by the Twin Cities group and it was also clear the owners hadn’t yet given much thought to the matter.

Asked by a reporter about the possibility of the team’s signing Canadian Football League players such as ex-Cal and current Calgary Stampeders quarterback Joe Kapp, Soda responded, “It depends.”

Charles Harney quickly added, “Wait a minute. What he means is, we have to learn the rules.”

Soda agreed, saying, “We’re certainly not going to hijack players. Maybe all of the Canadian players haven’t signed options. Anyway, we certainly will abide by the rules.” He also said that the team needed a general manager and coach to begin making overtures to potential players. Read more “February 1, 1960”

January 23, 1960

San Francisco mayor George Christopher opined at length about the possible consequences of having two professional football teams play in his city. “We should give serious study as to what degree we would be splitting the allegiance of fans so that neither team could last,” he said. “If it’s a question of a few extra dollars we shouldn’t risk these tremendous revenues we’ve been getting from the 49ers at Kezar. We should make a study as to how many areas have been able to adequately support two football teams.” 

Regarding a prospective team using either Kezar Stadium or Candlestick Park, he added, “As a resident of this city I believe I am entitled to my opinion, even though the rental is not my job. I believe that Stadium, Inc., and the Parks and Recreation Department, which has that responsibility, should give the matter very serious thought. I don’t know what it would cost to put Candlestick in proper condition for football by this fall. In view of the difficulties we have had out there, I think the economics should be carefully considered. I am reminded of the fable of the dog who looked into a brook while carrying a bone. He thought, ‘One bone’s fine, but two would be better,’ so he dropped the bone to retrieve the second bone, and had none. We don’t want that to happen to our football.” 

He was backed up by Alan Browne, the head of Stadium, Inc., the entity responsible for the management of Candlestick. “I would like to say the mayor’s opinion represents sound thinking and should be carefully considered even though we naturally would like to use Candlestick for as many uses as possible. It could be expanded to nearly double present capacity. It has been designed for football as well as baseball and eventually we feel it will house both sports. Kezar could then be used principally for high school and college sports.” 

Time for all parties was getting short. AFL commissioner Joe Foss confirmed that the league would meet and decide on the last team on the 26th, saying they would no longer wait around for the NFL to make up their minds on Minnesota. 

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle