Monthly Archives: June 2012
In 1969, football fans in the Cincinnati area could receive a set of free football cards featuring the hometown Bengals that were being given away at Tresler Comet gas stations. This 20-card set had an orange and brown sepia appearance, with a facsimile autograph, and was printed on a thin card stock. The cards measured the standard 2.5″ x 3.5″.
The card backs contain various biographical and statistical information, as well as a Tresler Comet logo, and a sketch of a bengal tiger running with a football. There is a note to “Hear all the Bengals games on WLW radio, sponsored by Tresler Comet.” The bottom of the card backs features an offer to “get the complete set of Bengal’s football cards FREE at your TC dealers.” There is one error in the set. The Charlie King card is mistakenly spelled “Charley” on the back.
After spending a couple of days working in Lance Alworth’s football archive a few weeks back, I posted an article featuring Lance’s 1964 AFL All-Star Game jersey, which he still owns. It is a beautiful jersey, and the photos that I took of the jersey gave many AFL fans their first look at a jersey from that game in full, living color.
One of the other fantastic items in Lance’s archive is a beautiful example of his famed powder blue Chargers jerseys. This particular Alworth jersey fits nicely into the 1963-65 range, when Alworth truly came onto the scene as a star in the American Football League. Alworth shared the title of AFL Most Valuable Player in 1963, after helping to lead the Chargers to a 51-10 victory over the Boston Patriots in the ’63 AFL Championship Game. While the Chargers lost the championship games to the Buffalo Bills in 1964 & 1965, Lance Alworth was no less a brilliant player. He led the league in touchdown receptions with 13 in 1964, and then followed that up by topping the AFL in reception yards (1,602), average (23.2) and touchdown receptions (14) in 1965.
I have written before about growing up as a Chargers fan, and as such, developing a healthy dislike for the Raiders. I have also written about how much I enjoy the AFL’s badboy, Ben Davidson. The two might seem like mutually exclusive interests, but I would challenge anyone who has ever met Davidson (and not played against him) to say anything bad about the guy.
The video above helps to illustrate just how likeable Davidson can be. He is a down-to-earth guy, and recognizes just how unique his life has been. Think about it for a minute… Davidson went from playing for the 1960s Raiders, to acting in Conan the Barbarian, Behind the Green Door, and many other films and television shows. After that he became a member of the famed “Tastes Great-Less Filling” crew on the old Miller Lite commercials. In his downtime, he hopped on his motorcycle and traveled throughout the U.S. and Mexico, cruising and camping along the way, meeting and enjoying folks from major cities and Mexican pueblos alike.
The fall of 1961 was the time when big-time football came to San Diego. The Chargers left their Los Angeles home after one struggling season, and moved south to the friendly confines of San Diego’s Balboa Stadium. Additionally, up on Montezuma Mesa, a man named Don Coryell left his spot as an assistant at USC, to take over the Aztecs of San Diego State College. With Sid Gillman and Don Coryell holding the two top football positions in the area, San Diegans no longer had to rely on Hoover vs. San Diego High for their gridiron excitement. The programs that these two coaches constructed are still noted by experts across the country as the foundations by which modern football is played today. The connection between the two programs also produced a number of fine former Aztecs that became Chargers in the old AFL.
There are a lot of fun facts about the AFL that make you pause and think for a bit. You may be scratching your head over the futility of the situation, the odds of the occurrence, or simply the inherent “coolness”, but the list of truths below will give you pause and make you think a bit.Running back Joe Auer scored on the very first and very last plays of the Miami Dolphins inaugural season of 1966. New York Titans owner, Harry Wismer, had to compete against the New York Giants for football fans in the Big Apple. When a reporter asked Wismer how he came up with the name for his team, Wismer is said to have responded, “What is bigger than a Giant? A Titan!” Along with his handlebar mustache and penchant for playing after the whistle, Ben Davidson is known for his deep and gravely voice, which ge got after receiving a punch in the throat from Kansas City Chief, Jim Tyrer. Though they played for the Chargers during their rookie seasons (and the better parts of their careers), Hall of Famers, Ron Mix and Lance Alworth, were not drafted by the Chargers. Mix was drafted by the Boston Patriots, and Alworth by the Oakland Raiders. The New York Titans first ticket office was owner Harry Wismer’s bedroom. Fans would go to Wismer’s apartment, and be led to the bedroom to purchase tickets, which he had spread over every flat surface in the room. Frank Youell Field, early home of the Oakland Raiders, was named after an Oakland-area undertaker. The Denver Broncos assistant general manager in 1966 was a man named Carroll Hardy. Hardy, who had played halfback for the San Francisco 49ers in 1955, also played major league baseball for the Boston Red Sox, where he pinch-hit for both Ted Williams (only man ever to do so) and Carl Yastrzemski. The Boston Patriots had men named Bob Dee, Bob Fee and Bob Lee, all trying to earn a spot on the team in 1960. From 1966-1968, the Miami Dolphins has a live dolphins named “Flipper,” in a tank in the east end of their stadium. Raiders Hall of Fame center, Jim Otto originally wore #50. He changed his number to 00 as part of a publicity stunt to go along with his last name. Otto = Ought-Oh = 00. Hank Stram is the only head coach to maintain a head coaching position with one team during the entire span of the AFL. The Chargers Sid Gillman fell just short of the accomplishment, resigned due to health reasons just with four games left in the 1969 season. John Stofa