February 7, 1961

Eddie Erdelatz had two spots open on his coaching staff and was hard at work trying to fill them.

“We’ve had applicants, of course,” he said, “and we are checking them out, but at this point we haven’t made a decision and the jobs are still open.”

The work of the staff continued, though, and the three men were busy watching the game film from 1960, evaluating strategy and players.

Up in the front office, acting general manager Bud Hastings was working on a preseason schedule for 1961. Adding a potential twist to his plans was news that the 49ers were planning to play just one of their five games at home in Kezar Stadium, going on the road for the other four.

Though that would give the Raiders more solo exhibition dates at home, Hastings said his team would probably play only one game at home, too, though he wasn’t committing to that plan yet.

“The primary point about playing preseason games away is the financial consideration,” he said. “If you can schedule these contests in cities or locations where there are no professional teams, generally you can count on very good interest in the one game. We’ve found that where you play seven league games at home, there’s not as much interest locally in the exhibition as there is in the league contests.”

While the 49ers plan would free up Kezar, Hastings said the team was committed to playing in Candlestick Park.

“We prefer Candlestick,” he said. “The response from a spectator’s standpoint has been very good. The fans told us the seating was much better, that the seats were much more comfortable with arm and back rests. As a matter of fact, in several recent letters from fans, quite a point was made of the comforts of Candlestick Park.”

Hastings was still waiting to hear if would get the general manager’s position on a permanent basis. The owners hadn’t made a decision yet, but signs were pointing in that direction.

Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Examiner

January 27, 1961

Today the Raiders announced their biggest signing of the offseason so far, inking halfback George Fleming to a contract. From the University of Washington, Fleming was the team’s second-round pick and the sixth-round pick of the Chicago Bears. To convince him to sign with Oakland, Eddie Erdelatz traveled to Seattle to speak with him in person. After the deal was announced, the Raider head coach was “elated.” “Needless to say, we’re very pleased to sign our number two draft choice,” he said. “He’s an outstanding football player and I’m confident he’ll see plenty of action with the Raiders. We plan to use him as a flanker back and also expect to utilize his ability as a placekicker. He’ll help us in several spots.”

Fleming had played quarterback with the Huskies and had been named co-outstanding player in the 1960 Rose Bowl.

In other news, supporters of a multi-purpose stadium in Oakland received encouraging news. Word came out that the American League had identified Oakland as likely site for Major League Baseball expansion by 1964. In response, the chair of the Oakland Coliseum Committee, Robert Nahas, responded by saying, “This gives us a great impetus to proceed with all speed along the lines we are now pursuing with the construction of an all-purpose stadium.” The committee was, at present, trying to fill out the directorship for the non-profit corporation tasked with getting the project underway.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune
San Francisco Chronicle

December 19, 1960

The Raiders ownership group had their first post-season meeting and, contrary to reports, there was no shift among their membership. Chet Soda remained president and general manger of the team though he acknowledged, “in any business group there’s the possibility of a change of officers at any time.” He characterized the meeting as “affable,” and referred to the rumors of some owners selling out saying, “there was an exchange of opinion on certain matters, but it isn’t progress when you quit after putting up money to build up a business. In the clutch, I’m sure any one of the eight owners would take over and operate alone if he had to.”

At the moment, Eddie Erdelatz was still head coach, but rumors persisted that he was angling to add the GM job to his portfolio and would leave if he didn’t get it. Soda expected him to stay regardless, saying, “Eddie has a two-year contract. I’m in the construction business and I’ve always felt in business dealings, you honor your contract.” Erdelatz made no public comment.

Soda briefly addressed reports of the team’s financial losses, though he wouldn’t say whether the reported $400,000 figure was accurate. He said the losses were “not as great as anticipated and surprisingly small. If you consider the advantages Denver and Buffalo had in their operations our losses were among the lowest in the league.” He cited Denver’s ownership of their stadium and Buffalo’s small stadium rental fees as support for his claim.

Figures were released showing that for at least six of the seven home games, paid attendance was significantly less than the reported figure. Soda blamed at least some of the poor showing on the league’s television contract, complaining that only four of the seven team’s road games were shown to Bay Area fans and added, “TV could be a blessing and a poison for both us and the National League. Conflicting telecasts such as we had this season are bound to hurt everyone. The government will force both leagues to get together in all things just like the American and National baseball leagues.”

He thought an improvement in attendance in 1961 would be “automatic,” and said, “There’s no question Candlestick is the place to play in 1961. Naturally, we would prefer a stadium in the East Bay, but will wait until 1962 when the proposed Oakland stadium is completed,” and said he was “confident” a new stadium would be in place by then.

Another owners’ meeting was scheduled for later in the week.

The team also reported they had acquired guard Jack Stone from the Texans as compensation for giving up signing rights to Abner Haynes back in the spring. Stone at 6’2” and 245 pounds out of Oregon had played all 14 games for Dallas in 1960, his rookie season.

Hayward Daily Review
San Francisco Chronicle

December 6, 1960

The Raiders trimmed their roster today, placing halfback Billy Reynolds on waivers. Signed as a replacement for Bob Keyes back in October, Reynolds had been used mostly as a punt returner with an occasional stint at the flanker spot. No word on whether the team would fill his spot.

In stadium news, representatives from across Alameda County met to discuss the proposal for an East Bay stadium. Despite some dissent from those representing cities south of Oakland, the committee agreed to focus on the Hegenberger Road site in Oakland for the purpose of financial planning. Mayors from Hayward, Pleasanton, and Union City argued that a stadium that serves and is paid for by the whole county should be placed in a more central location, with Pleasanton mayor Warren Harding saying he generally opposed public subsidies altogether. Oakland City Council member Fred Maggiora said while he thought his city would support an Oakland site, they would probably not approve funds for a stadium elsewhere. No final site decision had been made by the end of the meeting.

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

December 2, 1960

Two days before the team’s first game at Candlestick Park, the Raiders were cautiously optimistic that ticket sales would improve. “Our advance sale still isn’t much,” said assistant general manager Bud Hastings, “but it is up about 50 percent over other games. I don’t know whether to credit this to the move or the fact that we’re playing Los Angeles.” Noting that the team needed to sell about 20,000 tickets per game to break even, he added, “We have about 15,000 seats between the goal posts on one side of the field. If we play at Candlestick next season and attendance improves, we can move in the temporary bleachers on the other side and handle 25,000 between the goal posts.”

The team hoped they could draw about 15,000 each for the three remaining games with one unidentified team spokesperson saying, “That certainly would indicate we’ve made the right move and, naturally, would make our owners wonder why we didn’t do it before.”

While the ownership was hoping that the rain wouldn’t diminish attendance, the personnel department was gearing up for the finish of the draft scheduled for the 5th. In the meantime, department director Wes Fry and his group were looking at some of the redshirt picks made by the Minneapolis people the year before, including center Fred Hageman from Kansas, tackle Tony Polychronis from Utah, and especially, halfback Pervis Atkins out of New Mexico State.

Atkins was a local, having played his high school ball at Oakland Tech. After a stint in the US Marines, he went to junior college before heading to Las Cruces. At 6’1” and 190 pounds and sporting a 9.6 time in the 100-yard dash, he was thought to be a prime prospect. With the Aggies he had led the nation in rushing, punt returns, and scoring.

Said Fry: “I think we’ll have a good crack at Atkins. He assured me he wouldn’t sign until he weighs the offers and from the way he talked, I think he would be interested in coming here. Of course, we won’t talk to him about a contract until he completes his eligibility in the Sun Bowl.”

Hayward Daily Review
Oakland Tribune

November 24, 1960

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.

Oakland Tribune

November 21, 1960

The AFL announced the results of the first five rounds of their college draft. The Raiders went with tackle Joe Rutgens, a former All-American selection out of Illinois with their first choice. The complete list of their picks follows:

  • 1st round, T Joe Rutgens, Illinois
  • 2nd round, HB George Fleming, Washington
  • 3rd round, G Myron Pottios, Notre Dame
  • 4th round, E Elbert Kimbrough, Northwestern
  • 5th round, QB Dick Norman, Stanford

Locally, Norman got the most attention for obvious reasons, but he was playing it cool. “I’ll play where the money is,” he said. “I know what I want and if they don’t give it to me I just won’t play. If the pros don’t meet my terms I won’t even bother to turn out. I’ll just go back to school.”

The teams would make a sixth pick in a couple of days with the remaining 24 rounds coming sometime in December.

In stadium news, it was announced that the meeting between city and county officials to make a decision about a site and a funding plan, scheduled for tomorrow, would be postponed until December 7. This would give the parties time to make further investigations into the legal questions surrounding the proposal.

Associated Press
Oakland Tribune

 

November 18, 1960

Though a final decision wasn’t to be made until next week, Raider assistant general manager Bud Hastings was treating the move to Candlestick Park as a done deal. He said the decision had been made to lay out the field along the third base line into left field. “Laying out the grid this way will give us about 15,000 choice seats down the foul line and a total of about 30,000 good seats. We will rope off the very best section for our season ticket holders and there will be no problem keeping them all satisfied, I’m sure.” The first game in their new digs would be December 4 against the Chargers.

Oakland Tribune

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 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