The American Football League was founded in 1960 by Lamar Hunt, an heir to a Texas oil fortune. Originally, teams were set up in Dallas, Houston, Buffalo, New York City, Minneapolis, Denver, Los Angeles and Boston. Minneapolis was dangled a franchise opportunity in the NFL and switched over the rival league with very little time to plan ahead. The AFL was left scrambling as they knew they could not survive with just seven teams. The divisions would be unequal and the more markets the infant league could cover the better. Oakland was seen as a good spot as the East Bay was a growing metropolis.
For the first two years of their existence, the Oakland Raiders split their time between San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium and Candlestick Park. However, neither venue was suitable for extended use by the team as Kezar was the current home of the 49ers and Candlestick Park was still specifically a baseball venue. The franchise also represented Oakland and playing in a rival city while representing another is typically discouraged. The Raiders had to have a place they could call “home” but like most expansion teams were limited on resources.
The team picked a site which was formerly part of a housing project for people working in the war industry during World War II. Construction was brief for the 22,000 seat venue, breaking ground in March, 1962 and opening on September 9 of the same year. The final bill was $400,000 or $3.4 million in today’s economy. The venue was named after Francis Youell, a local undertaker and Oakland City Councilman.
The First Game
The Raiders of 1962 were a paltry group who could only muster a single win. They opened the season in their new home, Frank Youell Field, against the financially crippled New York Titans. The Raiders got on the board first in the second quarter with a field goal made by Jackie Simpson. This slight lead was quickly buried with an 80-yard touchdown pass between Lee Grosscup and Art Powell. Grosscup would add another touchdown pass, this time to Dick Christy, before the end of the half. Future Hall of Famer Don Maynard opened the third quarter with a 64-yard touchdown reception from Butch Songin. The Raiders finally got back on the board with quarterback Don Heinrich completing a 21-yard touchdown pass to John White. Lee Grosscup torched the Raiders secondary again to end the third quarter, completing a 64-yard touchdown pass to Art Powell. Alan Miller gave the Raiders their last points of the day with a one-yard plunge in the fourth quarter.
The final score was 28-17 Titans.
The 1962 season was arguably the worst season in Raiders history. They started the year 0-13 and were in danger of going winless entering the final game of the year. They had lost to their opponent, the Boston Patriots, earlier in the year 16-26. The Raiders were determined that this would be a different contest.
The Raiders started the game with a 19 yard field goal made by Ben Agajanian. Cotton Davidson added some excitement to the game when he completed a 74-yard touchdown pass to Clem Daniels in the second quarter. Daniels added a seven yard touchdown run to his stat line in the third quarter. The Raiders ended the game with 21-yard field goal. The Patriots offense was overwhelmed by the Raiders defense all game and the final score was 20-0 Raiders for their first win on Frank Youell Field.
Best Passing Performance
After a 10-4 turnaround in 1963, the Raiders started 1964 with a 1-5-1 record. Second year coach Al Davis had been implementing his philosophies but the franchise had yet to fully embrace his football philosophy. On October 25, 1964 Cotton Davidson had the greatest passing game in Frank Youell Stadium history.
The Denver Bronco’s entered the contest with a 1-6 record. The Raiders jumped to a 17 point lead in the first quarter with touchdown passes of 23 and 11 yards to tight end Billy Cannon. In the second quarter, the Bronco’s got on the board with a one-yard plunge from Jackie Lee. Davidson quickly answered with a 20-yard pass to Art Powell. The Raiders continued to dominate the Broncos in the second half with a four yard touchdown pass to Powell in the third quarter. Jan Barrett caught an 11-yard touchdown pass and the Raiders added a safety in the fourth quarter to end the game. The final score was a 40-7 drubbing with Davidson recording a Frank Youell Field best 23/36 for 427 yards and five touchdowns.
Best Rushing Performance
Clem Daniels had the greatest rushing performance in the history of Frank Youell Stadium on October 20, 1963. At the time the Raiders record stood at 3-4 while their opponent, the New York Jets, had a 3-3 record.
The Jets got on the board first with a 34-yard Gene Heeter touchdown reception from Dick Wood. The Raiders quickly answered with Alan Miller plowing for a three yard touchdown run. Tom Flores threw a 93-yard bomb to Dobie Craig on the following possession. Daniels ran for an eight yard touchdown shortly after.
The Jets made a bit of a comeback in the second quarter with two field goals from Dick Guesman. However, the Raiders quickly squashed any hope of a comeback with two touchdown passes from Cotton Davidson, first a 38 yarder to Ken Herock and then a 56 yarder to Clem Daniels. The Raiders went into halftime with a comfortable 35-13 lead.
Davidson added a third touchdown pass in the third quarter, this time to Alan Miller for eight yards. Daniels ran 74-yards to the end zone in the fourth quarter before the Jets added two meaningless touchdowns of their own. The final score was 49-26 Raiders.
Daniels was magnificent with 200 yards on the ground on 27 carries and 56 yards on one reception while tallying three touchdowns total.
The Last Game
The last game ever played on Frank Youell Field occurred on December 12, 1965 against the Jets. Joe Namath was a talented rookie who was just getting his feet wet in the AFL.
Neither team scored in the first quarter but the Raiders took over in the second quarter. The first of Oakland’s two touchdowns of the quarter was a one-yard plunge for Clem Daniels. Shortly after, Art Powell scored on a 26-yard reception from Tom Flores.
The Jets responded with two touchdowns of their own in the third quarter. Namath threw two touchdown passes in that quarter, the first was an 18-yarder to Bake Turner and the second was a 43-yarder to Don Maynard.
The Raiders sensed trouble and put the game away in the fourth quarter. Mike Mercer kicked a 22-yard field goal. Daniels put the game away with a 30-yard scamper into the endzone. The final score was 24-14 Raiders.
After the Raiders moved to the Oakland Coliseum following the 1965 season, Frank Youell Field hosted some high school games before being demolished in 1969. The site is now a part of the parking lot for Laney College.