This week’s News 8 Throwback takes you down memory lane with some of San Diego’s iconic sports legends from Bill Walton to Tony Gwynn.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Sign local basketball dynamo Bill Walton, and they will come. Shortly after signing with the San Diego Clippers in May 1979, season ticket sales rose dramatically. Public relations director Hal Chiles told News 8’s Laurie Singer that Walton was the real McCoy and that it was a distinct possibility that ticket prices would go up.
Bill Walton said it best “I’ll play and we’ll all make money.” Unfortunately, the San Diego native missed 68 games in his first season due to foot injuries (which he also suffered in his final years in Portland). San Diego finished 35–47, as Walton and other key players missed significant time due to injuries.
San Diego Clippers ticket sales after Bill Walton signs
News 8 Sportscaster Lyle Bond chats with San Diego Chargers Lance Alworth, Chuck Allen, and Al LoCasale, talent scout in August 1965
Wide receiver Lance Alworth told Bond he got tired more quickly when he played in the mile high city against Denver. Linebacker Chuck Allen spills some defensive plays secrets. Bond said it looked like the team was in good shape for the upcoming season. Allen said they were looking forward to a championship season. Their prediction was right as under coach Sid Gillman, they had a 9-2-3 record and won their fifth AFL West title. Alworth was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allen is a Chargers Hall of Fame member.
LoCasale, the team’s talent scout discussed recruitment with Bond. He said “the hardest part of pro football is when you have to send anybody home after football has been a major part of their life for four years in high school and four years in college. It’s tough to be a has been at age 22 but as I told one recently, it’s better to be a has been than a never was.” LoCasale spent 50 years in football, 34 of those with the Raiders as Al Davis’ right-hand man.
San Diego Aztecs Baseball v San Diego Padres 1987
It is a tradition that has long since passed, but it’s not forgotten. For years, the San Diego Padres would host the San Diego State University Aztecs baseball team for a game prior to the Padres season starting. For the Padres, it was a simple exhibition. For the Aztecs, it gave college players with big league dreams a taste of what it takes to play at the big-league level. Tony Gwynn tells Artie Ojeda when he played for the Aztecs in 1981 against the Padres, he hit a line drive over the pitcher’s head and that caught the attention of Jack McKeon, Padres General Manager.
San Diego Gulls v Portland Buckaroos Benefit Game 1978
In 1978 former San Diego Gulls played an exhibition game against The Portland Buckaroos. The “old-timers” still had all the right moves. Showing them off were Gulls greats Willie O’Ree, Earl Heiskala, Bob Courcy and Len Ronson. News 8 sports reporter Laurie Singer reminisces about the first Gulls game played November 17, 1966. She was there and it was her first hockey game. The 1966 film is also in this story.
1988 12 Meter Race with Ted Turner and Dennis Conner in San Diego
It was a spectacular sight off Point Loma in January 1988 when Ted Turner and his boat Liberty and Dennis Conner and his boat Stars and Stripes competed against each other in a 12-meter race. Turner helmed Conner’s boat and Conner helmed Turner’s. NFL stars Warren Moon and Jim Everett went along for the ride — all part of the Super Bowl hoopla — it was held in San Diego that year. News 8’s Loren Nancarrow reports.
Boxer Archie Moore with Harold Keen 1966
Legendary light heavyweight boxer and San Diego resident Archie Moore discusses his ABC program with News 8’s Harold Keen. “Any Boy Can” was based in Vallejo, California. He taught leadership qualities to youngsters aged 8-15. He said, “we teach basics, 5 points — “EGBDF” — “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” so let us face the future in harmony with mankind, black, white, red, yellow and brown — this is our credo — it’s for all boys.” He said there’s no greater satisfaction than working with children. Keen asked him if he considered doing the program in San Diego and Moore said Mayor Curran was not receptive. But the following year in 1967 it did start in San Diego. It eventually became “Anybody Can” when girls were allowed.
San Diego Stadium Construction February 1966
The stadium grounds on February 1966 looks much like it does in March 2021. The demolition of the iconic stadium is almost complete. Excitement was in the air as the San Diego Chargers went on the construction site on February 19, 1966. Paul Lowe, Bob Petrich, and George Gross chatted with TV 8 about their future home. They had one more season at Balboa Stadium. On August 20, 1967 The San Diego Chargers of the American Football League played their first game there.
San Diego Stadium April 1967
Newly digitized film from April 3, 1967 when stadium was about 70% complete. Beautiful, crisp, clear color film. It likely was a brand new color camera that captured these images. Chargers Speedy Duncan, George Gross, Walt Sweeney, and Bob Petrich toured the new stadium. Former Charger and promotion director Emil Karas is with them. Speedy said “Some how it’s more of a thrill to play in front of 50,000 fans than 30,000.Their first game was August 20, 1967. Designers and architects claimed that the field could be converted from football to baseball easily within 24 hours. The movable seats rolled away on big balloon tires; each section of seats could be towed away by truck mounted cranes. They were anticipating a Major League Baseball team. It became home to The San Diego Padres in 1969.