Sadness today around Chargersville, for those of us who knew the man.
So many people in old town San Diego knew him too.
George Pernicano has left us, at age 99.
George Pernicano, the biggest minority owner of the Chargers, the original owner when the Chargers moved here in 1961.
The Chargers were born the Los Angeles Chargers, owned by hotel and credit card magnet Barron Hilton. After one year in the LA Coliseum, they moved south.
Home was Balboa Stadium initially, then San Diego Stadium, that became Jack Murphy Stadium and now Qualcomm Stadium.
George Pernicano became a 7% owner of the team as it moved here.
He was a sports fan, an entrepreneur, and a fun loving rich man, who didn’t have to tell you he was wealthy.
He was kind, gentle, a man of hearty laughs, and loved his wine and his food.
His restaurant was legendary for over 40-years in Hillcrest.
He loved the Chargers, and went thru the highs and lows, of the Sid Gillman era, to Don Coryell, to Bobby Ross and Marty Schottenheirmer. He also suffered thru the Harland Svare scandals, the disappointment of the Ice Bowl, the Super Bowl, the mistake that was Kevin Gilbride and the Norv Turner era.
He never lost his love of the game, missing only 2-games in his career that spanned 55-years.
He stayed on board as the team went to Gene Klien, and then was dealt to Alex Spanos. They wanted to buy him out, but he never relented.
His initial investment, somewhere around 25,000 to buy a share in the team. You do the math, what is 3% of 1.9B, the current worth of the franchise.
But it was never about money with him, just the team.
He entertained players, dignitaries, and the media atop the Hillcrest hill..
A glass of good wine, an Italian dish, and football conversation. That’s what made his day.
Lots of San Diego fans never knew who he was, or what he represented. He was an original good guy, in an ever changing world where pro football became a corporate entity.
No doubt in heaven this morning, he’ll be smoking his cigar, and getting ready for Sunday, cheering Philip Rivers on as they play the team he hated, Al Davis’ Raiders. Just like he did every Sunday, whether it was Jack Kemp, John Hadl, Dan Fouts, Stan Humphries or Drew Brees, thru wins and losses..
He loved the Chargers. He was beloved by everyone who crossed his path.
A silent owner with a loud laugh we will always cherish.