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.
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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.
While the players were taking a day off following the win over the Titans, a pair of controversies dominated Raider news today. The first concerned a report that Chet Soda had sold 50% of his share of the team to Frederick Sullivan, the president of a San Francisco travel agency. Sullivan, whose firm numbered the Raiders among its clients, was the source of the news and he also asserted that three other owners had sold part of their financial shares to other parties. These sales, according to Sullivan, did not include voting rights. Soda denied the story. However, the team’s PR director, Jack Gallagher, acknowledged there was a provision in the ownership agreement that allowed owners to sell a portion of their share as long as voting rights were not transferred with the sale. Sellers of partial shares did not have to reveal names of the buyers to the other owners.
The other controversy involved a dispute between Eddie Erdelatz and Titans owner Harry Wismer. What was being characterized in the press as a “feud”, began on the Wednesday before the game. Wismer had invited Erdelatz to a cocktail party thrown for the press. Erdelatz did not attend, citing previous obligations, but Wismer took it as a snub and called Erdelatz “uncooperative and a troublemaker.”
Erdelatz responded by saying, “Wismer himself is hardly the most popular man in (New York) and being on his ‘list’ doesn’t bother me a bit.”
Not letting matters stand there, Wismer, an old radio hand, said on the air that the Raiders had arrived late to the game and that Erdelatz missed the beginning altogether. Scotty Stirling, the Oakland Tribune’s beat writer verified that the Raider coach had accompanied the team to the game and that they had arrived on time.
Marty Feldman confirmed this, saying, “We were in the Polo Grounds at the normal time and Eddie was certainly with us.” Erdelatz was unavailable for comment.
In less incendiary news, Soda announced that the team was abandoning its pursuit of playing the last three home games of 1960 in the Pacific High School stadium in San Leandro.
The team officially designated injured linebacker Riley
Morris as “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against the Patriots saying he
was still recovering from taking a knee in the back and wasn’t yet ready to
In sportswriter Ray Haywood’s column in the Oakland Tribune, space was provided for his
colleague Scotty Stirling’s observations during his three-week road trip with
Stirling was impressed by the players’ response to the
team’s “inevitable mistakes in travel scheduling, accommodations, practice
fields, etc.,” and said, “Their attitude is a compliment to Eddie Erdelatz.
They are so devoted to the coach that they laugh off inconveniences which would
cause most teams to call a grievance committee meeting.”
Among the tales he returned with was news that 5’8″
guard Don Manoukian was the humorist on the team, that Erdelatz rates trainer
George Anderson as the best he’s ever worked with, that tackle Paul Oglesby’s
nickname is “Cheyenne” based on a television character and is
incidentally “the handsomest player in the league,” that Eddie
Macon’s nickname is “Old Folks”, which is perhaps appropriate given
that he is the only player on the team who has seen his 30th birthday, and that
assistant coach Tommy Kalmanir is a poker player, but solo only. “Playing
alone is the best way to break even,” was his explanation.
San Mateo Times
The Oakland Tribune’s Scotty Stirling reported that the team had hired former University of San Francisco athletic director Jimmy Needles to oversee the screening process for the general manager and head coaching positions. A rumor from a persuasive source hinted that Eddie Erdelatz had been offered the head coaching job after a 7-1 approval vote by the owners, with only Charles Harney voting against. However, Robert Osborne denied that an offer had been made, that a vote had been taken, or even that Needles had been hired as a consultant. Nevertheless, Stirling said that Erdelatz had met with Soda and Needles and that he wanted a three-year contract for either $20,000 per year plus a percentage of the gate, or a straight $25,000 per year.
On the general manager front, observers thought the team had eliminated Pappy Waldorf from consideration because his demand of a $30,000 salary plus a percentage of the gate was too high. Phil Bengtson now commanded the front-runner spot with Paul Christopoulos and assistant Detroit Lions general manager Bud Erickson still in the mix.
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