Friday, January 13, 2017

Chargers Return to L.A. Recalls 1960 Game

The year was 1960 and the date was Sunday December 18. The Los Angeles Chargers and the New York Titans, both charter members of the American Football League, were scheduled to play at the Coliseum in the final regular season game of the fledging AFL's inaugural season.

My mother Donna had been given two tickets to the game from one of her colleagues in the secretarial pool at Universal International Pictures. She didn't drive a car, so we had to take the bus from the San Fernando Valley to the game. The trip required two transfers, the first at a stop on Hollywood Boulevard and the second at Vermont Avenue and Sunset Boulevard.

My Mom was an avid sports fan, and she loved football. Her father was Jack Carberry, who at that time was the sports editor at the Denver Post. She attended games as production assistant for Fox Movietone News during World War II, and when USC and UCLA would play at Stanford and California, she would fly the newsreel footage from San Francisco back to Los Angeles.


add bus trip: Although the bus trip took almost an  hour and the cool temperature barely registering 50 degrees at kickoff, we, along with the other 11,455 fans in attendance (the Chargers averaged around 15,000 for their home games), were rewarded with an exciting game.

The Chargers took the field wearing dark blue jerseys and white pants, with the distinctive lightning bolts on their white helmets. The Titans wore white jerseys, black pants and black helmets.

The Chargers, who were coached by Sid Gillman and a staff of assistants that included Jack Faulkner, Chuck Noll and Al Davis, had a high-powered offense that was led by quarterback Jack Kemp, running back Paul Lowe, offensive tackle Ron Mix, an All-American from USC, and kicker  Ben Agajanian.


first add Chargers: Lowe, a swift halfback from Oregon State, broke off at least two long runs, and on both plays my Mom jumped up and yelled, "He's a runner, he's a runner."

At halftime, she bought for me an L.A. Chargers pennant and an iron-on patch of the team's logo, a horse with a lightning bolt.

The game ended with the Chargers holding on to a wild 50-43 victory. Kemp threw three touchdown passes, but also had four passes intercepted. Agajanian kicked three field goals and Lowe gained 63 yards in 11 carries.

Wide receiver Don Maynard and running back Art Pollard were the stars for the Titans.


second add Chargers: The win improved the Chargers' record to 10-4, and as Western Division champions, they played the Houston Oilers for the AFL championship two weeks later, but lost, 24-16.

We took the three-bus ride back to the Valley. Later, my Mom ironed the Chargers patch onto my jacket, which I wore to school almost every day that winter, and I pinned the pennant on my bedroom wall.

Jack Kemp went on to become a star with the Buffalo Bills; the Titans would be renamed the N.Y. Jets; Don Maynard would become a favorite receiver for a young quarterback from Alabama nicknamed Broadway Joe.

And, in January of 1961, the Chargers owner Barron Hilton announced that he would move the team to San Diego, ending its brief stay in Los Angeles. Now, 56 years later, they are coming back.

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