Calling themselves "The Foolish Club," Hunt who owned the Dallas Texans and Adams who owned the Houston Oilers were joined by Max Winter of Minnesota who was ultimately lured away by the NFL, Harry Wismer who owned the Titans of New York, Bob Howsam who owned the Denver Broncos, Ralph Wilson, Jr. who owned the Buffalo Bills, Billy Sullivan who owned the Boston Patriots, Chet Soda who owned the Oakland Raiders and a socialite and hotelier by the name of Barron Hilton who owned the Los Angeles Chargers.
Following Winter's defection, the "Original Eight" launched the American Football League in 1960. Quickly becoming a viable competitor to the NFL, in its first year of existence, the AFL signed half of the NFL's first-round draft choices and then assured their financial solvency by introducing the first professional football gate and television revenue-sharing plans.
The following year, Barron Hilton made the decision to move his Los Angeles franchise south to San Diego. The team played in the first two American Football League Championships, losing both to the Houston Oilers. The Chargers went on to play nine more years in the AFL reaching the AFL playoffs five times and the AFL Championship four times and in 1963, the Chargers trounced the Boston Patriots by a score of 51 to 10 to take the AFL Championship.
Prior to the 1970 season, the AFL merged with the NFL. Since then, the Chargers have made seven trips to the playoffs and three appearances in the AFC Championship game. Their roster has seen five players and one coach enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio and, in 1994, they made their first and only Super Bowl appearance dropping the game to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX by the score of 49 to 26.In 1972, the year the Chargers turned in a dismal 4-9-1 record, Jeremy Snyder was born in Dickinson, North Dakota. While only a little over 1,200 miles away from one another in actual distance, the geographic, cultural and socioeconomic differences between San Diego and Dickinson are equivalent to that of the Earth and the tiny planet Pluto. While the sight of palm trees and the Pacific Ocean lapping against the shore were things young Jeremy Snyder, the son of a North Dakota farmer, could only imagine, there was something about the professional football team based in California's second largest city that fascinated him. That fascination stemmed from the sportscards and sports magazines his mother would buy him.
"I knew I wanted to be a collector when I was very young," said Jeremy. "I didn't have any concept of what collecting really meant, or how to go about it, I just knew I wanted to collect things. I started with Star Wars toys my mom bought me. She also started buying me packs of football cards and magazines. I would cut the pictures and articles out of the magazines and put them in a photo binder. I kept everything related to the San Diego Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers."
By 1979, the then-seven-year old Jeremy was a solid football fan. "I remember my mom liked watching Joe Montana and was impressed with him in the 1979 Cotton Bowl," Jeremy recalled. In search of a professional team he could call his own, Jeremy remembers watching a game between two teams that didn't seem to like each other much. "I remember the announcers talking about how the team in silver and black were very popular with their fans but disliked by other teams and their fans for their rough and dirty play," Jeremy laughed. "Well, I decided I would like the other team they were playing since the announcers kept talking so much about two of their players, one named Dan Fouts and one named Charlie Joiner."
After that game, with his mind made up on the team he wanted to follow, Jeremy told his mother that from that day on he would be a San Diego Chargers fan. "She was always getting me football related items and buying me football cards," Jeremy recalled. "The late-1970s on through to the mid-1980s was the perfect time to be a fan of the Chargers. For me, watching Don Coryell was so much fun and I was crushed every time the Chargers lost. I was also devastated that they never got to a Super Bowl. During that time, I also liked watching Joe Montana because my mom was a big fan of his. While the Chargers were my team, I became a Montana fan as well. The game I remember most was when the Chargers played the 49ers on December 11, 1982. I'll never forget that game because I think it was one of the best regular season games in football history. It is definitely my favorite Charger regular season game of all time."
In 1990, Jeremy graduated from Dickinson High School, landed a job at a local restaurant, got married and had two children. While Jeremy's first marriage only lasted a short time, in 2004, he married his current wife, Bree. Today the couple lives in Bismark, North Dakota and Jeremy works for a major insurance company. "It's stressful work," said Jeremy. "But it pays the bills - which I am grateful for in today's economy and bad job market."
Sports Market Report recently caught up with Jeremy and asked him about himself and his Chargers card collection.
SMR: Tell us a bit about yourself.
JS: I work a regular Monday through Friday 40-hour week, so my weekdays aren't that eventful. My typical day is getting up, having breakfast, reading a bit from the Bible, saying a prayer, doing a few things done around the condo, and then getting off to work. My commute isn't too bad - it is about 20-feet from my kitchen. I have my office computer at my residence and work from home. I love it. My company saves on office space and I save expenses by having to drive less. In the evenings, with what little time I have left, I like to spend time with my wife and call my mom or the kids. I guess like everyone else, I live for the weekends. I pick a weekend or two every month to go visit my mom and kids.SMR: We know you are specifically collecting the 1975 Topps Football San Diego Chargers Team set. Have you ever collected anything else?
JS: Well, while I had some cards as a kid, I didn't become a serious collector until the early 1990s. I collected everything I could get my hands on that had to do with the Chargers, the San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers and L.A. Lakers. Then when PSA came along, I started really focusing on collecting graded cards. But, being as that I was young, married with two kids, and had a low income and debt, I couldn't afford much. So, I started putting together a 1975 Topps football set very slowly. I had some of the first PSA 10s for many of the stars in that set. Then, in 2001, I got divorced and the financial situation made it impossible for me to keep my set with my coveted Dan Fouts rookie card. I had to sell everything.
SMR: How and when did you get back into collecting?
JS: I got back into the hobby after I was remarried in 2004. By then, I was in a better financial situation so I decided to get back into card collecting again. Back then, from 2004-2008, I was all over the board. I had no real focus and I was just buying and selling everything I could. I was buying great cards that were out of my price range knowing I couldn't keep them. I bought them because I just wanted to have them for a few months. I figured I would resell them and get something else. But I would try to keep cards from all my favorite teams, even the ones I really couldn't afford to own.
SMR: What changed in 2008?JS: In the early part of that year, a friend of mine looked over my collection and told me that I was all over the place with my buying and selling. He advised me to start focusing on a specific set and being as that he knew that I was a huge Chargers fan, he recommended the 1975 Topps Chargers team set. Well, while I thought that was a great idea, I started thinking that I really wouldn't be able to afford to buy the Dan Fouts card and I didn't want to part with the cards I had just to be able to do that. But, after thinking about my friend's advice and being a regular reader of Joe Orlando's "Hacks" editorials in SMR, it started to make sense to me that if I wanted to continue on as a collector, I would have to pick a theme, establish a budget, and then stick with it. I decided to go on the search for a 1975 Topps Dan Fouts PSA 10. I eventually found one that I thought was the best Fouts PSA 10. It had four razor sharp corners, smooth edges, perfect centering, and the surface looked like it was just printed. It was just an amazing example of a PSA 10. So, I bought that card and registered it on the PSA Registry and I was on my way.
SMR: How did things progress once you focused on a specific set?
JS: I began finding some PSA 10s and many PSA 9s by communicating with various sellers that sold both raw and graded cards. As the year went on, I found more and more of the 18 cards I needed to complete the set. Some of the raw cards I bought graded out as PSA 10s, which was great because my goal was that my set would all be at least PSA 9s. As it turns out, by April of 2009, I had the #1 active set on the PSA Registry. I really don't know how I was able to accomplish it that fast when you take into consideration that eight of the PSA 10s I have are Pop 5 or less, and two have a population of one. The Gary Garrison PSA 10 that is one-of-one came from a seller I had contacted. I had given him my want list and he found the one card I needed.
SMR: So it sounds like getting focused on a set really worked for you.
JS: Very much so. In early 2009, I found an individual who had the low pop PSA 10s of Terry Owens, Carl Mauck and Doug Wilkerson and another one-of-one PSA 10 Jerry Levias. Then in mid-April, out of the blue, I found a Harrison Davis RC PSA 10 that was one of two.
SMR: Do you have favorite cards in this set?
JS: Definitely. My favorites are the Dan Fouts, Gary Garrison, Doug Wilkerson and Don Woods cards. That is largely because of the admiration I have for these guys as players. Woods was a great running back whose career was unfortunately cut short by injuries. Wilkerson was tough as nails and Garrison was a reliable, underrated wide receiver. Then there is Fouts who was incredible from his college career at Oregon and then starting out as a rookie behind the great Johnny Unitas.
SMR: Jeremy, you said that when PSA came along it really sparked your more serious interest in card collecting. How important do you feel PSA and PSA/DNA are to you and the sportscard hobby?
JS: I think it is very important. Some of my first purchases out of high school, almost 20 years ago, included a Dave Winfield game-used autographed bat and an early 1980's Chargers team signed Football. Well let's just say the Certificates of Authenticity that came with those items weren't that impressive. I never found out if the Winfield bat was authentic but I can tell you I know that football was worthless. The "D" and the "F" on the Fouts' signature were all wrong. I'm not a professional authenticator and yet I could see that the signature was clearly a forgery. After that, I never bought any other autographed items until PSA/DNA came along. PSA is extremely important to the hobby because the only thing worse than not being able to afford something you really want is shelling out your hard-earned money for something and then finding out it is not what you thought it was.SMR: Now that you have the top set on the PSA Registry, are you moving on from the 1975 Topps set?
JS: My goal is still not complete even at #1. My goal is to have all 18 cards in PSA 10, no matter how long it takes. I know it's not the most sought- after set in the collecting world, but it is what I can afford. I love these cards and I am grateful to have it. I had great fun and enjoyment putting it together.
SMR: What are you currently looking for?JS: I'm on the search for PSA 10s of #68 Dennis Partee in PSA 10, a #124 Joe Beauchamp RC PSA 10, a #202 All Pro Tackles Wright/Washington PSA 10, a #284 Coy Bacon PSA 10, a #309 Chris Fletcher RC PSA 10, a #335 Russ Washington PSA 10, a #448 Bob Brown PSA 10, a #486 Bo Matthews RC PSA 10, and a #518 Jesse Freitas RC PSA 10.
SMR: You certainly can't conceal your passion for this set. It's evident that you have really enjoyed putting it together.
JS: I've had more fun collecting this set then all the other buying and selling I ever did in the past. I am not wealthy, so taking the advice of my friend and from Orlando's "Hacks" was the best thing I did. It really changed things for me when I sold all my cards from all over the spectrum of sports and focused on the one team set I could afford. The 1975 set is a great challenge. In my opinion, the cards in this set seems to have various print problems so even when you find a card that has everything you want, it may still have a smear or faded print in the field or banner. That has made the challenge even more fun for me.
SMR: And what about when you have finalized this set. Any ideas as to what you may want to do next?
JS: Someday, in the distant future, I would really like to put together the 1981 Topps San Francisco 49ers Team set with a Joe Montana PSA 10. That would be my dream - to have the complete team sets of my two favorite quarterbacks that played in that December 11, 1982 game - my favorite game of all time.