San Diego Chargers: A look back and then to the future

I’ve been a season ticket holder along with my father since 1961. It’s kind of hard to look back without  my Dad, but I’ll give it a try. Some of the moments have been great and some not so much, but it sure feels like time is running short for the “San Diego Chargers.” Anyway, we’ll look backward as well as forward and see how things have gone and maybe will go.

My first memory is of the walk and the cannon. My mom, dad and I would park at a dry cleaners about seven blocks from Balboa Stadium in downtown San Diego. It seems like we walked uphill to the stadium and uphill back to our car after the game, especially if we lost, which wasn’t very often in those days. I remember sitting on those hard stadium seats on about the 40-yard line and watching my first pro game in color! TV was black and white then so things sure looked different in person. As the game started and the Chargers scored their first touchdown, a small cannon in the end zone blasted toward the field. It looked like someone was shooting at the players. Turns out the cannon was supplied by a local bar called Mickey Finn’s. Actually, the bar was named for the owner’s wife whose name was Mickey. She and her husband sat on the 50-yard line on the same row we were on. Even as a 7-year old, I thought she was quite attractive. I doubt my mom appreciated her appearance!

In ’63 I was 9 and beginning to become quite the football aficionado. I would use an old fashioned hole puncher and colored paper to create confetti that I’d take to the game. The other kids in the stands always wanted to see me throw the home made stuff into the air so they could try to catch it. Never for a field goal. Only for a touchdown. In the AFL championship game against the Boston Patriots, I ran out of confetti! It’s impossible to anticipate that much confetti when your team scores 51 points.

As the years went on there are so many memories…the Holy Roller was tough to watch as Ted in a chicken suit collapsed in response to referee Jerry Markbreit’s ruling that the Raider touchdown was good and the Raiders would win the game. Another game, losing to the Raiders in the AFC championship when the Cleveland Browns should have been there (they had the Raiders beat in the Divisional round in Cleveland before a late interception by hated Oakland) sealed the fate of the Browns and, eventually, the Chargers.  By the way, by this time the Chargers had been in there new digs at Jack Murphy stadium, now the “Q,” for over 10 years.

Obviously the big moment was the ’95 Super Bowl. My Dad and I went back to Miami and had a great time. Chuck Muncie was on the plane with us. In some ways I think that Charger team may have faced the best team in history. Other than the ’60’s Packers, I’m not sure there’s ever been a team with more Hall of Famers on the field at one time. It was just too much firepower for the Bolts to overcome. Five of those Niners are in the Hall and there may be more to come. 1 Charger from that team is a Hall of Famer (Guess who???).

Our original seats at the “Q” were lower view, section 36 row 3 or 4, can’t remember, seats 9 and 10. We had those seats for almost 40 years. I gave them up a few years ago after my Mom and Dad passed away but I couldn’t stay away and got new seats the very same year. We’ve been in the club section the last few years and enjoyed it immensely, except, of course, for the prices.

If we look forward, it’s a pretty murky outlook. Not only are the Chargers probably moving but are they even going to have the same name? I don’t know. It sure feels like the end of an era. The good news? Tom Telesco has seemed to have a few pretty good drafts under his belt. The team is young and appears to play hard all the time. Maybe that’s part of the injury problem. Guys like Jahleel Addae and Denzel Perryman haven’t learned when to ease up to avoid injuring themselves and teammates.

Anyway, I think the future looks bright. I just don’t know where, who’s in charge, and what the team will be called. To me, however, they’ll always be the Chargers and even if the name isn’t the same, I’ll always show up in Charger regalia. I owe that to my parents.

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