Pat Shea, a starting right guard on the San Diego Chargers’ 1963 American Football League championship team and a legendary Mission Bay High athlete, passed away in Encinitas recently at age 73.
Shea won the 1958 CIF Southern Section heavyweight wrestling championship for the Buccaneers and was the ’58 City Prep League track championships shot put winner with a best of 55 feet, 9 1/4 inches. At that time Shea’s mark was the third best ever by a city schools athlete.
Shea played in the annual Breitbard Foundation College Prep All-Star game featuring players from San Diego County versus Los Angeles City and was a lineman at San Diego Junior College before moving on to the University of Southern California.
Shea recalled his days with the Chargers and at Mission Bay in classmate Bill Swank’s acclaimed book about the beach-area school, “Gold Leather Helmets – Black Hightop Shoes”:
“When I think about coaches at Mission Bay, I think about coach (Chuck) Coover,” said Shea. “I loved him. He was quiet, but he also paid special attention to me. He saw something in me.”
Shea remembered Don Donnelly as his favorite classroom teacher and the difficulty of matching wrestling holds with coach Walt Romanowski.
“Romanowski tied me up,” Shea told Swank. “I outweighed him and I didn’t know how he did it. Romanowski and Coover were guys you wanted to please.”
Shea was known as a rough and tumble figure in his younger days in Pacific Beach and the coastal communities. He was the second Shea to attend the new Mission Bay High, which opened in 1953.
Pat followed Bob Shea, who was a starter on early Buccaneers basketball teams in 1954-55 and ’55-56 and went on to a career as a life guard and administrator.
Pat Shea played at San Diego Junior College for two seasons and two years at the University of Southern California. He made the Chargers as a rookie free agent in 1962 and concluded his career with the Chargers in 1965.
Chargers line coach Joe Madro was particularly fond of Shea. The taskmaster Madro usually addressed Pat by Shea’s middle name, Beardsley, and appreciated Shea’s toughness and competitive spirit.
Shea said that he appreciated Chargers coach Sid Gillman but did not like general manager Gillman. “I liked him,” Shea remembered, “until I had to negotiate a contract with him.”