The franchise began as the Minnesota franchise of the new American Football League in 1959.
In an all out effort to stop the new league the established NFL expanded into the Twin Cities with the Vikings and into Dallas with the Cowboys.
Lamar Hunt's Dallas Texans made the decision to stay put in Dallas and compete with the older league but the cash strapped ownership group in Minneapolis decided their odds would be better in the San Francisco east bay area.
With the local newspaper, the Oakland Tribune, a contest was held to name the new franchise. The winner was a Fremont Calif., woman who came up with the moniker Oakland Senors.
hat name was changed to the Raiders almost at once but the Black and Gold colors would last for the first three years of the Raiders existence.
From the 1960 season and through the 1962 campaign the Raiders put a ragtag mix of castoffs onto the field and in 1962 reached a low point when the lost the first 13 games of the season.
As a fan it was tough rooting for a losing team that no one seemingly wanted.
Without an adequate stadium in Oakland and being turned down in a bid to use Cal Berkeley's Memorial Stadium the team played their initial games at Kezar Stadium, a large high school field on the edge of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
Things changed in 1963. A young assistant to San Diego's offensive guru Sid Gillman, was hired to take over as the Raiders head coach.
His name was Al Davis. The changes were swift and direct. Davis made some personnel changes while putting an entirely new offensive scheme in place and he got results.
In his first season, the Raiders improved on their 1-13 record from 1962 with a 10-4 mark in 1963. The franchise was now on the map. They continued with winning records through 1966 when they traded their All-Star wide receiver, Art Powell, to the Buffalo Bills and brought in Darrell Lamonica to quarterback the Al Davis offense.
From 1967 until 1981, the franchise was more successful than any other in professional football winning over 80 percent of their games, appearing in the playoffs 11 times and appearing in three Super Bowls while winning two of them.
I was at every one of the Raiders' home games during that stretch and was asked by another writer on Bleacher Report to see some of the pictures I took of players of that era.
Here are a few I scanned for him to see. I hope you enjoy them.
My mother was an artist and painted a six foot portrait of my favorite player Hewritt Dixon as a Christmas gift for me. One afternoon we took it to the Raiders practive facility in San Leandro to have it signed by Hewritt.
He was so taken by it that he asked her if she would paint one for him, (which she did), and introduced us to all of the players.
Of course I was thrilled but our families became friends and until he left the team he remained my favorite Raider. This is Hewritt Dixon and myself taken in the fall of 1968.
A lot of you probably won't remember Tony Lomax but he was a great guy. He only stuck with the Raiders practice squad for two years but did have a chance to play in the World Football League for the Jacksonville Sharks.
With world class 100 meter speed he was a blast to watch and was a great test for Raider All-Star corner Willie Brown.
The Raiders got offensive tackle Bob Brown in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams. He was known as "The Boomer" because of the way he blasted defensive linemen.
I saw Bob actually break a wooden goal post in two with one of his crushing blocks. Now he is known as Hall of Famer Robert Brown.
Tight End Bob Moore was one of a long line of talented tight ends for Oakland, (Billy Cannon, Raymond Chester and Dave Casper to name a few). Bob came to the Raiders via the draft after playing for Stanford.
As one of Jim Plunkett's favorite targets Moore caught 5 huge catches for 113 yards in the Rose Bowl victory over Woody Hayes' Ohio State Buckeyes.
I took this picture of Bob before he ever played a down of professional football.
Simply one of the greatest centers of all time. The only original Oakland Raider to play every game the Raiders would play in the AFL and has been inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It was amazing to watch him work in the trenches. It was almost like the position was invented for him.
Another original AFL performer, Ron was an all league offensive tackle. Smarter than the average guy, Mr. Mix added a Law degree to his education while he was protecting John Hadl in San Diego.
He came to the Raiders after a trade and is now another member of Canton Ohio's fraternity of Hall of Famers.
Cornerback Jimmy Warren played for the University of Illinois and went on to play pro ball for San Diego. He went to the newly formed Miami Dolphins in the expansion draft of 1966 were he started every one of the Dolphins games during their first three seasons.
He came to Oakland as an aging corner but what he lacked in youth he made up for in guile. I remember a playoff game in 1971 when he got up from making a tackle and limped badly back to the defensive huddle.
Bob Griese, the Dolphin QB saw this and decided he was going after Jimmy. Limping very badly back to his position and even the first two steps after the snap, Jimmy turned on the jets to step in front of Paul Warfield to intercept the pass.
Jimmy passed away in 2006.
Warren was simply an incredibly gifted split end. Speed, great hands, smart and an exceptional route runner.
One of the greatest recievers in the league and the favorite deep target of the Mad Bomber, Darrell Lamonica.
Unfortunately, Wells' career was cut short after he was convicted on rape charges in Texas.
I don't know what Warren is doing now.
The Assassin. Jack Tatum revolutionized the free safty position. One of the hardest hitting defensive backs of all time.
I recently heard a "Top Ten Hardest Hitters" list on the NFL Network and Jack was listed as the number 5 hardest hitter of all time.
Willie Brown laughed and said, "If Tatum is number five, I don't want to see one through four".
An Ohio State star and a consistent Pro Bowl selection, Jack was simply as good as it gets.
Since football Jack has written three best selling autobiographies, owns a bay area restaurant and is very active as a fundraiser for the fight against diabetes.
A tight end at Florida A&M and the Denver Broncos Al Davis converted Hewritt to fullback when he arrived in 1967.
It proved to be a shrewd decision. Dixon led all fullbacks in the league for three consecutive years. No one had ever seen a fullback with his blazing speed.
Dixon once ran for 164 yards in the Championship game including a 69 yard sweep around the right end for the games first touchdown.
The Raiders built on that score and defeated the Oilers 40-7 and earned a trip to their first Super Bowl.
Hewritt passed away from a long bout with cancer in 1992.
Strong safety and return specialist in his early career in Oakland. He was a standout at Morris Brown and is considered by many to be among the best Raider defensive backs ever.
I knew we had something special when he returned a kickoff for a touchdown on opening day in Buffalo. It was the first time he touched a ball in pro football.
George still lives in the bay area and works as a broadcaster for the Raiders.
The best hands the game has ever seen. If Freddy could touch it, he would catch it. He was a slow runner but ran great routes and was a favorite target for every Raider quarterback he played with.
He was signed after his final game at Florida State under the goal posts because Al Davis didn't want the NFL scouts to get a shot at signing him.
Biletnikoff coached for 18 years after his retirement including 10 years as receivers coach for the Raiders.
Fred has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and every year the player voted as the nations greatest college receiver is awarded the Biletnikoff Trophy.
Gene was the All Everything guard that anchored one of the best offensive lines in football history. The Raiders just would not have been the success they were had it not been for him.
You never had to think, you just knew the hole would be there or the defensive tackle would not be a factor when the Raiders dropped back to pass.
Upshaw is another of the many Hall of Famers that the Raider organization produced during that era and he went on to an extremely successful position as the head of the NFL Players Union.
Gene Upshaw passed away in August 2008.