Scotty Stirling reported that Raider guard and Pacific Northwest tag-team wrestling champion Don Manoukian was quitting football to pursue his wrestling career full time. Manoukian, one of the most well-liked players on the team said the decision was a difficult one that took several months to make.
“I loved playing with the Raiders,” he said, “and will miss such great competitors as Jim Otto and Tony Teresa, but in thinking of my future I realize I’ve got to take advantage of my wrestling opportunities right now. I can only take the bumps for another three or four years and wrestling, I feel, is the answer. (The Raiders are) a great outfit and Bud Hastings was real understanding when I finally called him and told him I was quitting. It was hard for me because I somehow felt I was letting the team down. Besides, there are a few guys in the AFL that I would like to clobber again, like the corner linebackers at Boston.”
Hastings and Eddie Erdelatz were very disappointed at the news. “The loss of Manoukian is hard to take,” said Hastings. “He was the heart of our fine offensive line last year.”
Hastings also announced that the team had resolved matters with ABC television and that a fourth away game was returned to the TV schedule: October 15 at Denver.
Scotty Stirling reported that Steelers defensive back Fred Williamson was playing out his option and wanted to join the Raiders. Oakland general manager Bud Hastings said the Raiders would enter negotiations with Williamson as soon as it was permissible.
Williamson, a Berkeley resident who played in six games last season with Pittsburgh, said, “I had a good year with the Steelers, but I live in California and I’d like to play football with the Raiders.” He also said the Bay Area was more lucrative for his budding architect career.
According to Tribune reporter Scotty Stirling, the Raiders were planning to expand the ownership group to include 12 to 15 limited partners. These partners, some of whom might already have been selected, would have no voting or management power, and would simply be investors. According to Stirling, the plan had been under consideration for a while.
The unnamed source for the story, who seemed to be at least one step removed from the team, said, “It would appear the move not only gives the club fresh capital for the coming season, but indicates a faith in the Raiders and the AFL by local investors.”
The Tribune’s Scotty Stirling reported today that the Raiders were looking to trade up to two of their offensive backs in return for some help on defense, particularly at defensive tackle, outside linebacker, and cornerback. The team wouldn’t mention which players were on the block.
“We look, first of all, for the best football player, regardless of position,” said line coach Marty Feldman, “so in any trade we may get a man for a position other than those we feel need the most help.”
Stirling also said Eddie Erdelatz was in the process of hiring another assistant and was currently conducting interviews.
Tribune writer Scotty Stirling followed Tom Louderback around for a day as the Raider linebacker hawked season tickets in and around downtown Oakland. Louderback, along with Jack Larscheid, Wayne Crow, and Ron Sabal made up the “Four Men in Motion” campaign put in place by ticket manager Al Salisbury to help the team reach its goal of selling 15,000 season tickets for the 1961 campaign. Louderback was said to be the leading seller of the four and sold 200 on the day Stirling accompanied him.
Louderback said, “Several people refused to buy because they don’t want to drive to Candlestick Park, but the real fans seem to realize the club will have to be a success in San Francisco if it is to survive until our coliseum is built in Oakland.
“I’ve only run into a few people who weren’t interested in the Raiders. You just have to see the enthusiasm and then you realize most people in the Eastbay want to back the club. They like the personalized sales service, too.”
AFL Passing Numbers
The AFL released its individual passing totals today, and by a method not spelled out in the story, Jack Kemp of the Chargers was deemed to hold the number one spot. The Raiders’ Tom Flores came in at sixth place, while Babe Parilli finished tenth. Denver’s Frank Tripucka topped the list in attempts with 478, completions with 245, yards with 3,039, and interceptions with 34. Al Dorow of the Titans led the league with 26 touchdowns and Kemp led in yards per attempt at 7.43.
Hayward Daily Review
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.
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.
San Mateo Times
Scotty Stirling, in the Oakland Tribune, reported that there was unhappiness among some of the players over their 1961 contract offers. Wayne Crow, Charlie Hardy, Jack Larscheid, Tom Louderback, and Tony Teresa all voiced some degree of disappointment according to Stirling. Crow and Louderback said they received pay cuts, while Hardy, Larscheid, and Teresa said their raises were too small or non-existent. Tom Flores, on the other hand, said he was “reasonably happy” with his deal and Stirling said the general consensus was that he had received a hefty increase over last year. No specific dollar figures were mentioned anywhere in the story.
Crow, explaining that part of his 1960 deal included the withholding of part of his salary to be paid to him during the offseason while he completed his degree at Cal: “The withheld money was not a bonus, but part of my basic salary and it isn’t included in my new contract. That represents a big cut in pay. The withholding setup did not work too well, and I don’t want a similar contract, but that money was a part of my salary so I feel there may be a mistake somewhere. At any rate, I’m not signing until I’ve thrashed the thing out with club officials.”
Hardy: “My contract had a bump in it, all right, but I’m not satisfied with it.”
Larscheid: “I sent (my contract) back, and I’ve since received a letter requesting I drop into the office to discuss the matter. I know, too, that Wayne Hawkins isn’t pleased with the terms in his contract, and he was a starter all of last year.”
Louderback who, like Larscheid, returned his contract unsigned: “They included a big cut in the salary and I’m not signing. When I first got the contract in the mail I thought it was a misprint. I feel I had a good year for the club. I was a starter all season and didn’t get any complaints about my play from the coaches.”
Teresa: “I just gave (my offer) a quick look when I saw the small raise and I threw it in a drawer. I’m thinking it over and I may send it back unsigned.”
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
San Francisco Chronicle
Confirming what had been considered a foregone conclusion, the San Francisco Park and Recreation Commission formally, but conditionally, granted the Raiders permission to play their last three home games in Candlestick Park. As had been announced previously, the team would be responsible for stadium cleaning as well as converting the field and scoreboard to a football configuration and back to baseball after the season.
While the team continued to prepare for the critical matchup with the Chargers on Sunday, the Tribune’s Scotty Stirling ran a feature on center Jim Otto, saying he was considered by many observers to be the best at his position in the league. At under 230 pounds, the coaching staff thought he would be too small, but as his coach Eddie Erdelatz said, “This is a guy that puts out one hundred percent all the time. He’s my kind of ballplayer, combining desire with real ability. You can’t beat that combination. We’ve played all the clubs in this league and have looked at miles of films of each and we haven’t seen a center that comes close to Jim.”
He was also a fine special teams player with Tom Louderback saying Otto was the fastest person he’d ever seen in pro football on punt coverage. The story also said he had played through injuries, including a “chronic” chest problem he had suffered since a skiing accident in his youth and a bad knee and ankle. According to Stirling, despite Otto’s physical woes, he had missed less than a half-dozen plays all year.
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.