Category Archives: Ron Mix

Chargers’ Last AFL Game Meant Record Setting Moment, Memorabilia for Alworth

I recently put together an article about the Chargers last game as an AFL franchise for Sports Collectors Daily.  It is kind of amazing to think of the important moments in pro football history that occurred during that game.  First, it was the last AFL game for the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills.  Second, it was Ron Mix’s last game as a Charger – he later came out of retirement to play for the Raiders, much to the chagrin of Chargers owner, Gene Klein.  Finally, that was the game that lance Alworth broke Don Hutson’s record with 96 consecutive games with a reception.  Pretty amazing for a single game.

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December 14, 1969 – Chargers vs. Bills – Their Last AFL Game


 

I was looking through YouTube for AFL videos and came across this highlight piece on the Chargers vs. Bills game from December 14, 1969.  This was the last game these two teams played as members of the American Football League, and as such carried a degree of importance.  It was also notable to Chargers fans as the game in which Lance Alworth broke Don Hutson’s record by going 96 consecutive games with a reception.  Additionally, it was Ron Mix’s last game as a Charger.  Mix had initially planned to end his football career, but was later lured out of retirement to play for Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders.  Mix’s “unretirement” upset Chargers owner Gene Klein so much, that he had Mix’s #74 put back into circulation, though the team had previously retired the number in honor of the great tackle.

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Finding Frank; Full Circle in a Life Cut Short – A Preview Chapter

A book is currently being written about former Chargers linebacker, Frank Buncom.  Lee “Buzz” Ponce, a one-time ballboy for the AFL Chargers is authoring the work.  Ponce has kindly offered up a chapter of the book for our enjoyment on Tales from the American Football League.  The Sports Illustrated article to which Ponce refers can be found HERE.

A remarkable insight into the American Football League and professional sports can be found in a primordial Sports Illustrated article from September, 1968. It’s noteworthy on several levels:  how it still resonates even today in portraying the delicate balance between player salaries and team chemistry, and how it captures the mood of professional sports long before the advent of free agency and multi-million dollar player contracts.

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The AFL All-Time Team Trophy

AFL All-Time Team AwardWhen the AFL and NFL finally merged after the 1969 season, the Pro Football Hall of Fame went about selecting AFL All-Time Team.  The announcement of awardees was made through the newspapers on January 14, 1970.  According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame website, the ballotting was particularly close at defensive tackle and cornerback.  The selection of a head coach was also very close, with Weeb Ewbank, Sid Gillman and Hank Stram all in the running.  The AFL All-Time Team was officially presented at the last game in AFL history, the All-Star Game that was held in Houston on January 17, 1970.

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>1961 Golden Tulip Chargers

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1961 Golden Tulips Chargers Ron Mix card
In the early 1960s, AFL teams were attempting spread the word about “The Other League,” and were holding promotions of all sorts.  One method that was nearly always popular, especially with younger fans, was player trading cards. 
Back of a standard Golden Tulips card
While Topps and  Fleer were distributing their bubble gum sets on a national basis, many smaller, regional sets were produced that were dedicated to an individual team.  The 1961 Golden Tulip Chargers set is one such issue.  The cards, which measured 2″x3″ and were distributed in the San Diego area, came inserted into bags of Golden Tulip Potato Chips, one card per bag.  Though the cards were housed in a cellophane sleeve, most are found today with oil stains from the greasy chips. The complete set of 1961 Golden Tulip Chargers cards consists of 22 cards.  The two most-prized cards in the set are of quarterback Jack Kemp, and hall of fame tackle, Ron Mix.  The other players in the set are Ron Botchan, Howard Clark, Fred Cole, Sam DeLuca, Orlando Ferrante, Charlie Flowers, Dick Harris, Emil Karas, Dave Kocourek, Bob Laraba, Paul Lowe, Paul Maguire, Charlie McNeil, Ron Nery, Don Norton, Volney Peters, Don Rogers, Maury Schleicher, Ernie Wright and Bob Zeman.  Botchan, Ferrante, Laraba, Schleicher and Zeman were never featured on regular-issue Topps or Fleer cards, and thus the Golden Tulip issue represents a rare opportunity to find them on cards. The backs of all Golden Tulip cards are identical, and advertise a contest to win tickets to Chargers games.  Additionally, they speak of an opportunity to receive an 8″x10″ photo of Chargers players.  By mailing in five cards of a particular player, you would then receive back your 8″x10″ photo of the same player.  These blank-backed photos, now referred to as Golden Tulip Premiums, are exceedingly rare, and amongst the most desired of all regional AFL issues.
Maury Schleicher Golden Tulips Premium
The Golden Tulip Chargers premiums were only produced in 1961, the Chargers first year in San Diego.  Other companies produced Chargers premiums in later years, including the Golden Arrow Dairy Milk Caps, Union Oil Prints, and of course, the Coca-Cola Bottle Caps.