My dad's name is Jim. I attended quite a few Chargers games with him when I was a boy, starting in 1973. Dad was already a longtime fan by then. When he and my mother started dating, they attended games at Balboa Stadium which now forms part of the San Diego High sports field.
In honor of Dad’s 80th birthday, I asked him about his journey as a Chargers fan.
Danik: What were your first experiences with football, what were the first games you went to?
Jim: I’d say they were my own games. Back when I was in fourth grade, we would represent our school in Rotan Texas. In those days everyone would learn how to play at their elementary school ( we didn’t have Pop Warner or anything like that).
Football is a way of life in Texas. We’d watch Midland High School football on Friday nights.
You know that film Friday night Lights? I’d say it represents what it was like living there [in Texas], only difference is that it was the late 40’s and early 50’s.
The whole family would drive down to see my cousin play at TCU. He was a real good offensive lineman.
D: What were some of your favorite football players?
J: I didn’t really have many [favorite players] back then, other than “Slinging Sammy Baugh” --he was from the same town as me. He’d play Quarterback, Defensive Back, and Punter. I bet you he played more positions than that.
He played for the Redskins and also had an acting career.
D: What was your impression of the inaugural season the AFL, and the players from the first LA Chargers team?
J: It was so exciting, because at that time there were no pro football teams in California. Those games were fun to watch. They did some things that later forced the NFL to change the way they were doing things.
I loved watching Ron Mix: helluva lineman. Your mom and I got to meet him [at Stubhub].
Paul Lowe was a damn good running back. Jack Kemp was at Quarterback. The Chargers made it to the Championship that year, only to come up short against the Houston Oilers.
D: How did you feel when you heard that the Chargers were moving to San Diego and would play at Balboa Stadium?
J: I was pretty excited--we only had limited sports in the area [before that]. I was just starting to date your mom at the time, and we decided we were going to do a double date with her brother and his date. I was the one with the car. We’d park near the high school and buy tickets for 5 dollars.
They were some good games to watch. Sid Gillman was into throwing it downfield a lot and it felt like any play could be a big breakout play.