July 27, 1961

The Raider coaching staff held a surprise scrimmage today and afterward head coach Eddie Erdelatz offered only the very faintest of praise. “This wasn’t too bad a scrimmage for the first time,” he said, “but we’ve got an awful long way to go.”

He did single out a handful of players that performed well in his estimation. He had good words for the blocking of fullbacks Jetstream Smith and Alan Miller and said the team had “good, healthy competition” for the position. He was also happy with the effort shown by Jack Stone and Wayne Hawkins on the offensive line and by tight end Doug Asad’s much-improved work running pass patterns.

Prior to the scrimmage Scotty Stirling had filed a camp report in the Tribune the included bad news for the team involving running back Tony Teresa. In previously unreported news, Teresa had spent a week and a half in a hospital in June because of back pain and it was acting up on him again. According to Teresa it didn’t bother him during practice but got bad at night.

The hospital told him there was “swelling, causing pressure back there and the only thing that will clear it up is lots of running, and time.”

Despite the news, trainer George Anderson was pleased with the way things were going so far. “We had at least a half-dozen guys on the sidelines with muscle pulls after the first couple of days work last year,” he said. “So far this year we’ve had only one pull and that wasn’t serious. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

Stirling also reported that linebacker Al Bansavage was continuing to impress his coaches. Secondary coach George Dickson said, “he has good size and speed and one other quality I greatly admire, ruggedness.”

Eddie Erdelatz said he was happy with the defense, overall: “They seem to be getting much better—greatly improved over last year at the same time. I liked the way our defensive line and linebackers were moving.”

Dickson added, “We’re not doing things too differently from a technique point of view, but (the players are) making a real effort to improve. They must set a high standard and achieve consistency. The secret of pass defense is aggressiveness, cohesion, and unity, and they’re working toward it.”

Other injury news

Guard Jim Green had his nose broken during the scrimmage, but wouldn’t miss any practice after getting a more protective facemask for his helmet

Lineup change

John Harris, who spent most of last year as a reserve in the secondary, was promoted to a starting corner position ahead of the reigning team leader in interceptions, Eddie Macon. Erdelatz said Harris had been the top defensive back in camp so far and deserved the spot.

Read more “July 27, 1961”

July 26, 1961

Jim Otto dropped a bombshell on the team today by announcing he would play out his option after the season and seek a spot in the NFL next year, according to George Ross of the Tribune. Unsurprisingly, money was at the heart of it. He and the Raiders were “several thousand dollars” apart from an agreement and Otto said he wasn’t “going to budge.” He also said he knew of three NFL teams that would pay him what he was asking for.

Otto, who made $8,000 last year, said he “was disappointed after winning the all-league honor last season. This usually brings a bonus from the club, $500 to $1,000 from some clubs. I got just one thing, a (newspaper) clipping somebody sent me. I want to be able to retire with something when I finish playing. It’s not just the salary, either. It’s a matter of off-season opportunities, too.

“We have a great bunch of guys on this club and this is the best coaching staff I’ve ever played under. But this is, after all, a profession. I had to prove I could make the team last year and after making it, I went out to prove I was the best. I think that’s worth a good raise.”

Bud Hastings, who was also trying to come to an agreement with Tom Louderback, said, “We’re still trying to work the thing out. We’ll talk to him (Otto) in a couple of days.”

Thinning the crew

Raider training camp was in full swing today and a new series of cuts were in. Five men, all of whom where free agent signings during the offseason were placed on waivers: running back Bo Bankston, defensive back Clive Bullian, linebacker Dick Carlsen, defensive back Grover Garvin, and defensive back Ed Whittle. Also, the team finally got in touch with defensive lineman Ramon Armstrong, who told them he was retiring from football to help run his father’s ranch back home in Texas.

Armstrong’s decision left the Raiders short on both lines. Eddie Erdelatz said, “We’ll have to figure on some position changes to strengthen both spots,” and suggested that some prayer wouldn’t hurt, either.

Camp news

Scotty Stirling’s camp report in the Tribune included news of a “near fight” between Al Bansavage and Bob Coolbaugh, and Tommy Kalmanir’s praise for the work of running backs Oneal Cuttery, Alan Miller, Jetstream Smith, and Tony Teresa. Joe Cannavino, Wayne Crow, and Bob Voight also looked good.

Stirling said Erdelatz was already installing his new defense and that he was pleased at how fast the veterans were catching on. “We are throwing the stuff at them fast,” he said, “and they seem to like the change.”

Linebacker Bob Dougherty concurred, “Coach Erdelatz is doing a lot more coaching with the defense than he did last year and I’m confident we’ll be a lot tougher.”

Read more “July 26, 1961”

July 21, 1961

Ed Schoenfeld of the Tribune reported that new Raider defensive coaches George Dickson and Bob Maddock were going to preach aggressive team play to their charges when camp got underway.

“I don’t think a guy can be a good football player defensively without being mean on the field,” said Dickson. “Football is a team game above everything else. You’ve got to have unity, unselfishness, and be willing to sacrifice. There’s never been a championship team in any sport that wasn’t extremely aggressive and competitive and if you don’t improve, the parade will pass you by. If a team can improve just one percent a day, it will be a pretty good team long before the end of the season. There is no point of stagnation. You either go forward or backward.”

Schoenfeld emphasized both coaches’ experience as players at Notre Dame and said both men saw defensive football as combat. Maddock said you prepare a player to go to war through “rigorous mental and physical training.”

In the same issue, Scotty Stirling offered a preview of the team with a focus on some of the new players that would be in camp, including a pair of free agents just signed today: 5’11”, 190-pound quarterback Nick Papac out of Fresno State, and speedy 6’2”, 195-pound halfback Ed Whittle from New Mexico State.

Stirling also coaxed some more from Eddie Erdelatz about the team’s prospects for the upcoming season. “We will be facing tougher, bigger, and faster clubs this year,” said Erdelatz. “We must completely overhaul our defensive team and add more polish and speed to our attacking unit. We’ll move much faster during training than we did in 1960, but it still will be the toughest part of the season, physically and mentally, for coaches and players.

“If we can improve the offense, which did a great job last year, and patch up that defense, we’ll be in there with all of them.”

When pressed to predict the team’s record in 1961, he said, “It’s much too early to talk about that. Right now, I’m concerned with getting our club down to a workable number and building a solid, eager organization.”

Erdelatz offered the usual bromides about every position being up for grabs, but Stirling identified players he thought had jobs already sewn up: cornerback Joe Cannavino, defensive tackle George Fields, quarterback Tom Flores, wide receiver Charlie Hardy, center Jim Otto, and halfback Tony Teresa.

More roster news

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that tackle Ray Schaack, signed by the Raiders as a free agent in February, told the team he was going to focus on his education and would not report to camp.

No radio?

The San Mateo Times reported that KNBC, the team’s radio broadcast partner last year, had yet to renew the contract.

July 12, 1961

The team announced they had agreed to 1961 contract terms with four of their veterans: John Dittrich, Tom Flores, Charley Powell, and Tony Teresa. The news came as a welcome relief after all the public grousing about team parsimony back in March.

Said general manager Bud Hastings, “In Flores we believe we have the top quarterback in the league and we’re mighty happy to have him in the fold. Teresa was our top running back last year and we’re delighted he has come to terms.”

Oakland Tribune

July 9, 1961

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.”

TV News

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.

Oakland Tribune

June 6, 1961

The Raiders’ second-round draft pick, George Fleming was in town for an extended visit prior to training camp next month. He was there to get acquainted with both the team and the local facilities of the brewing company where he had worked while attending the University of Washington in Seattle.

When asked what he thought of his chances of making the team, he said, “I feel confident that I have the ability to make any team I try for, but I know it takes an all-out effort. I picked the Raiders over the Bears—who had drafted him in the NFL—not because I felt it would be easier to play for Oakland, but because of several other factors.

“The Raiders and the American League are just getting started and have no place to go but up. I like to be in on the ground floor. My employment situation with Rainier (Brewing) is another factor. My off-season job is on the Coast and it will help me to be playing with a California team.”

While in town he would meet with Eddie Erdelatz and get a copy of the playbook. He was hoping to be ready for the first exhibition game against the Oilers. Though Fleming had been a halfback with the Huskies, Erdelatz planned to try him out at flanker.

When Fleming remarked that he probably wouldn’t be able to wear his college number, 25, because Tony Teresa had it, and worried that he might not get a number at all, Erdelatz said, “He’s a cross between Hugh McElhenny and Lenny Moore and somehow I think he’ll have a number.”

Oakland Tribune

March 12, 1961

The AFL began its release of official statistics for the 1960 season today and the first data dump included rushing numbers. The Texans led all teams with 1,814 yards or 129.6 per game. The Raiders finished second with 1,785 yards or 127.5 per game.

Abner Haynes of the Texans won the individual crown with 875 yards on 156 carries. Paul Lowe of the Chargers was second with 855 yards and led the league in average gain at 6.3 yards per carry. Oakland’s Tony Teresa finished fifth with 608 yards on 139 carries. Houston’s Dave Smith and Billy Cannon came in third and fourth, respectively.

Hayward Daily Review

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