February 28, 1961

The Raiders signed another trio of free agents today: halfback Grover Garvin, end John Hardy, and tackle Ray Schaack.

Garvin, 5’10” and 185 pounds, played his college ball with Cal and excelled in the return game. Last season he spent time with the Chargers in training camp before getting cut in August. Although he played both ways with the Bears, the Raiders were probably going to try him out in the secondary.

Hardy, 6’2” and 220 pounds, was Charlie Hardy’s younger brother and followed him at Oakland Tech high school before moving on to Cal Poly. Charlie said his signing “may mean a real fight for my job. I haven’t seen him since 1958, but people in football tell me he is a fine player.”

Schaack, a 240-pounder, played for UC Santa Barbara where he made honorable mention on the United Press Little All-Coast team.

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February 21, 1961

For the first time in history the Raiders and 49ers squared off on the field of battle. The teams met at the Alameda County Fairgrounds to play basketball in a charity event and the first round went to the NFL, with the Niners winning 65-48. The Raiders were never in it, going down 38-24 at the half. Oakland’s scoring leaders were George Fields with 14 points and Charlie Hardy with 12.

Back in the football world, the team announced the signing of three free agents: halfback Clive Bullian, center Harrison Rece, and tackle Bob Voight. Bullian, 25, at 5’10” and 190 pounds, played his college ball at San Jose State and had training camp experience with several pro teams, most recently with the Dallas Cowboys last year. Fellow Spartan Tony Teresa called him “a fine all-around ball player.”

Rece, 24, at 6’3” and 235 pounds, played at the University of Tampa before transferring to Trinity in Texas. He had also spent some time playing ball during military service.

The 23-year-old Voight, at 6’5” and 265 pounds out of Los Angeles State, had been drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 18th round after doing his own stint in the service. He was probably the best prospect of the three, having been an excellent athlete in several sports during his collegiate career.

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February 1, 1961

Ernie Jorge resigned his post as offensive line coach today, citing “the length of the pro season, the number of games, and the traveling” as his reasons. He had been hired by Eddie Erdelatz last February after having served under him at the Naval Academy in the 1950s and was the first of the four assistants he hired.  Jorge said he still wanted to coach and would “listen to any and all offers.” The news left the Raiders with just two assistants, Marty Feldman and Tommy Kalmanir, following last week’s departure of Ed Cody to Washington State.

 

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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.

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January 1, 1961

The Raiders signed two draft choices today, their first two of the offseason. Putting pen to paper were ends Paul Yanke of Northwestern and Clair Appledoorn of San Jose State, the team’s 25th and 27th round choices, respectively.

The team hoped to sign others soon, including their 19th round pick, San Francisco State halfback Charley Fuller. A report appeared saying Fuller had signed with the 49ers, but he denied having done so.

They also held out hope they could ink Northwestern halfback Ray Purdin. Picked in the 7th round by both the Raiders and 49ers, Purdin said he didn’t “feel strong enough to play in the NFL this year. I’ve been bothered by injuries all year and I don’t want to take any chances, but I would like to try with the 49ers next year if I get a little stronger.” He thought he might hook up with another team this year to keep his football skills fresh.

One player they weren’t going to get was halfback Pervis Atkins. A big, fast star out of New Mexico State, the Raiders acquired his signing rights from the Minneapolis franchise that selected him as a redshirt last year, but the Rams had selected him, too, and Atkins decided to go with the NFL.

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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.

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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.

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November 14, 1960

The Raiders waived end Al Hoisington today. He had joined the team a few days after the season opener against Houston but had played sparingly as a backup to tight end Gene Prebola, catching just a handful of passes in eight games. With Doug Asad getting more work, Hoisington looked increasingly like the odd man out. That left the team with 34 players on the roster. Eddie Erdelatz was vague when asked if they would add another player to take his spot.

The players still on the team were enjoying the first of three consecutive days off.

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October 22, 1960

The team arrived in Buffalo after a red-eye flight during which sleep was fugitive, at best, for most players. Upon arrival, the players were instructed to hit the hay and get some shut-eye. When they woke up they learned there was a new face in the ranks.

The Raiders announced the signing of 5’11”, 200-pound halfback Billy Reynolds. The former University of Pittsburgh Panther had broken in with the Browns in 1953 and his rushing, receiving, and special teams play earned him the NFL’s rookie of the year award. The following year he was an important member of Cleveland’s championship run, but he spent the next two years in the air force. When he returned for the 1957 campaign he began to suffer a series a nagging injuries that sapped his once-formidable speed and was traded to the Steelers the following summer. He played only sparingly in Pittsburgh and ended up in Canada for 1959. He spent the summer of 1960 in Chargers camp but they let him go just before the season started. The Raiders, looking for more backfield and special teams depth, decided to take a flyer on him.

To make room on the roster, they put Bob Keyes on waivers. The seldom-used Keyes had played just three games for Oakland, rushing once for seven yards, catching one pass for 19 yards, and returning one punt for five yards.

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September 28, 1960

The Raiders continued to work on optimizing their roster today, signing John Dittrich, a 6’1”, 240-pound guard out of Wisconsin. Dittrich, a two-year letterman for the Badgers, played in the Senior Bowl and the College All-Star game following his university career and was drafted by the Cardinals in the sixth round of the 1956 draft. A part-time starter with the Cards in his first season, he spent the next two years in the Air Force before returning to the NFL with the Packers in 1959. Green Bay dealt him to the Cowboys this past August. Dropped by the Cowboys earlier this month, the Raiders picked him up hoping to improve their offensive line.

To make room for Dittrich, the team released tackle Bill Striegel, a player who had been added just eight days ago and made his single appearance for the team against Houston.

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