The Lance Alworth Rookie Cards and Other Vintage Cards


Lance Alworth Rookie Card Info

Sometimes it’s a complicated task to identify which cards are true rookies, but that isn’t the case with Lance Alworth. He only has one card that can be considered a rookie. The key word there is “card,” because he does have one other truly oddball issue that was produced a year earlier than his universally recognized 1963 Fleer rookie card. Outside of those two rookies, he has some other great early cards but nothing else that can be considered a rookie card. In this article I’ll cover the two rookies and a few other early Lance Alworth cards.

1963 Fleer Lance Alworth- The Best Lance Alworth Rookie
1963 Fleer Lance Alworth- The Best Lance Alworth Rookie

1963 Fleer Lance Alworth #72

The 1963 Fleer Lance Alworth card #72 is one of the most valuable and sought-after football cards of the 1960s. Lance Dwight Alworth was a multi-sport athlete who earned high school letters in baseball, football and track and field. He was drafted by the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and the AFL’s Oakland Raiders and offered professional baseball contracts by the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates. He decided to play football in the AFL where his rights were traded to the San Diego Chargers.

In the AFL, Lance Alworth quickly established himself as the best receiver in the game. In 1963 he had 1,205 receiving yards starting a string of 7 consecutive years with more than 1,000 yards. By the time he retired he was a 6-time All-Pro, 7-time Pro Bowler, had more than 10,000-lifetime yards, and 85 receiving touchdowns.

Any rookie card of a Hall of Famer is sought after by collectors, but there are additional factors that make the Lance Alworth rookie card even more in demand:

Other Factors:

  • HOF Receiver: It is notoriously difficult for wide receivers to be elected into the Hall of Fame. Even players who seem to be obvious candidates for first-ballot induction like Chris Carter, Terrell Owens, and Torry Holt were snubbed in their first years of eligibility. Players of this caliber struggling to get the necessary support to get into the Hall of Fame makes players who got in on their first try look that much better. Before Alworth, Raymond Barry was the only receiver elected during his first year of eligibility.

  • First AFL Hall of Famer: Before 1970 there were two leagues, the AFL and the NFL, and many people thought the NFL franchises were superior. After the merger the NFL champion beat the AFL champion in the first two Super Bowls, which made this perception even stronger. However, starting with Joe Namath guaranteeing a win in Super Bowl III, the AFL turned the tide and proved to be the NFL’s equal by winning three consecutive Super Bowls. This validated the career of Lance Alworth and helped him earn the distinction of becoming the first NFL Hall of Famer who played most of his career in the AFL.

  • Era Dominance: Modern players can put up amazing numbers, but without knowing how their contemporaries will do it’s hard to judge their historical greatness. With players like Lance Alworth that isn’t a problem. Alworth was the dominant receiver of the 1960s and he is still regarded as one of the greatest few receivers to ever play the game. The game of football has changed a lot since he played, but his reputation as an all-time great has endured and that isn’t going to change.

1963 Fleer Set Details

In 1963 Topps prevented Fleer from issuing any more baseball cards, so Fleer abandoned sports cards altogether for the next several years. This was Fleer’s final set of football cards until the 1976 team photos set and the final set of active players until 1990.

The 1963 Fleer Football set included 88 cards plus an unnumbered checklist. To make room for the checklist on the printing sheet the Bo Dougherty card was short-printed, making it rarer than other cards in the set.

In addition to the Lance Alworth rookie card (#72), this set also includes the rookie card for fellow Hall of Famers Len Dawson (#47) and Nick Buoniconti (#10).

  • Year: 1963
  • Manufacturer: Fleer
  • Number of cards: 88
  • Subsets:
    • Checklist
      • This checklist has no number

1963 Fleer Lance Alworth (#72) Card Details

  • Card no: #72 of 88
  • Name on Card: Lance Alworth
  • Position: Flanker Back
  • Team: San Diego Chargers
  • Height: 6′
  • Weight: 182
  • Age: 24
  • School: Arkansas
  • Home: Brookhaven, Miss

Front of the card

Design: The 1963 Fleer Lance Alworth #72 card has a vertical layout with a light-colored border. A photo of a helmetless Lance Alworth running with the football takes up about three-fourths of the card. The photo is surrounded by a thick red border that connects to a larger red block at the bottom of the card. It contains his name, position, city, and the San Diego Chargers logo.

1963 Fleer Lance Alworth Rookie #72 - Front
1963 Fleer Lance Alworth Rookie #72 – Front
Verdict: Rookie Card

Shop for the 1963 Fleer Lance Alworth #72 on eBay (affiliate link), because it’s the most recognized Lance Alworth rookie card.

Back of the card

Design: The back of the 1963 Fleer Lance Alworth card #72 has a vertical layout with a very simple design. The top third of the card is red and has Lance Alworth’s name, position, team name, and biographical information including height, weight, age, school, and home. Below that is the card number in a very large red font and a paragraph about Alworth’s rookie year and college career that wraps around the number.

There are two variations of the back of this card, one that has a red line on the bottom and one that doesn’t — both are pictured below. PSA doesn’t grade these cards any differently. There doesn’t seem to be enough of a difference in population to make one version more valuable than the other.

1963 Fleer Lance Alworth Rookie #72 - Back
1963 Fleer Lance Alworth Rookie #72 – Back
1963 Fleer Lance Alworth Rookie #72 (red line variation) - Back
Red Line Variation of the 1963 Fleer Lance Alworth Rookie #72 – Back

Until a torn thigh muscle put him out of commission early in the 1962 campaign, “The Lancer” was headed surely for rookie-of-the-year honors. He’s one of those can’t-miss species with the speed of a sprinter and the moves of a gymnast. At Arkansas, he was a popular choice for All-American in 1961 and during his college days he was timed at 9.6 seconds for the 100-yard dash. In his brief debut he caught 10 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns.

1963 Fleer Lance Alworth rookie (#72)

Lance Alworth Rookie Card Value

The Lance Alworth 1963 Fleer card is one of the most valuable football cards 1960s. The chart below is from the popular card grading site, PSA. It shows auction prices for the Lance Alworth rookie card in various conditions.

1963 Fleer Lance Alworth Price Guide
1963 Fleer Lance Alworth Price Guide (Source: www.psacard.com 01/14/22)

Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1963 Fleer Lance Alworth rookie card #72.


Other Relevant Lance Alworth Cards

The 1963 Fleer Lance Alworth card (#72) is his only rookie, but there is an oddball issue that predates it – it just isn’t a card. Since there aren’t a lot of rookies to cover in this article I’ll walk through some of his first Topps cards.

1962 Golden Arrow Dairy Bottle Cap Lance Alworth

The 1962 Golden Arrow Dairy Lance Alworth bottle cap is a rare and odd collectible. These bottle caps were distributed on milk bottles around San Diego in 1962 and 1963. The set included 32 Chargers players along with the coach, owner, and AFL commissioner.

Pete Rose also has a “bottle cap rookie” many collectors don’t know about.

1962 Lance Alworth Golden Arrow Dairy - Front
1962 Lance Alworth Golden Arrow Dairy – Front
1962 Lance Alworth Golden Arrow Dairy - Back
1962 Lance Alworth Golden Arrow Dairy – Back
Verdict: Oddball Rookie Card

Shop for the Golden Arrow Dairy Lance Alworth bottle cap on eBay (rare) (affiliate link), because it’s the first and rarest Alworth rookie.


1964 Topps Lance Alworth #155

Topps lost the license to produce NFL football cards to the Philadelphia Gum Company in 1964, so they took over the license from Fleer to produce AFL cards for the 1964-1967 seasons. The 1964 Topps Lance Alworth card #155 is significant because it’s his first Topps card, even though it isn’t considered a rookie. It features a full-body picture of Alworth on a solid yellow background bordered by red stars.

1964 Topps Lance Alworth #155 - Front
1964 Topps Lance Alworth #155 – Front
1964 Topps Lance Alworth #155 - Back
1964 Topps Lance Alworth #155 – Back
Verdict: Not a Rookie

Shop for the 1964 Topps Lance Alworth on eBay (affiliate link), because it’s his first Topps card.


1965 Topps Lance Alworth #155

As mentioned above, Topps made AFL cards for the 1964-1967 seasons. It’s interesting how different each of these four sets was from a design point of view. In 1965 Topps experimented with a larger set that measured 2 1/2″ by 4 11/16″. This size card is referred to as “tallboys.” Topps would later bring this size back for its 1969-70 basketball sets.

The 1965 Topps Lance Alworth #155 card shows a shoulder-up photo of Alworth on a red background. His team’s city is above his head in white and his name and position are below him on a black bar. Alworth played the flanker position, which means he lined up just behind the line of scrimmage and usually near the tight end instead of out wide. This position is commonly referred to as the slot position in modern football.

1965 Topps Lance Alworth #155 - Front
1965 Topps Lance Alworth #155 – Front
1965 Topps Lance Alworth #155 - Back
1965 Topps Lance Alworth #155 – Back
Verdict: Not a Rookie

Shop for the 1965 Topps Lance Alworth card on eBay (affiliate link), because of the unique card due to the size.


1966 Topps Lance Alworth #119

The 1966 Topps Lance Alworth card is the last one I’ll cover in this article. From a pure aesthetics perspective, this is my favorite due to the close-up photo of Alworth catching a football. The wood grain border of this card is also cool because it resembles a TV. Even the color of the name on the card compliments the yellow highlights in Alworth’s Chargers uniform.

1966 Topps Lance Alworth #119 - Front
1966 Topps Lance Alworth #119 – Front
1966 Topps Lance Alworth #119 - Back
1966 Topps Lance Alworth #119 – Back
Verdict: Not a Rookie

Shop for the 1966 Topps Lance Alworth on eBay (affiliate link), because of it’s legendary design.



Lance Alworth’s Legacy

Lance Alworth started his career as a member of the American Football League’s (AFL) San Diego Chargers. Alworth was nicknamed “Bambi” because of his dark brown eyes, incredible speed, and ability to jump high in the air to catch passes. Lance Alworth was injured during his rookie season, but he took the league by storm in 1963 and was named the AFL player of the year.

Alworth remained a force for the rest of the 1960s, a decade where he made seven Pro Bowl teams and was named as an All-Pro six times. He regularly led the AFL in offensive categories including touchdowns, receptions, and receiving yards. He is considered to be one of the five best wide receivers in history and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1978, making him the first player who played primarily in the AFL to be inducted. His uniform number 19 was retired by the San Diego chargers in 1977.

Here are just some of Lance Alworth’s career accomplishments:

  • 3 time Receptions leader (1966, 1968, 1969)
  • 2 time Receiving Yards per Game leader (1965, 1966)
  • 3 time Receiving Yards leader (1965, 1966, 1968)
  • 1 time Yards Per Receptions leader (1965)
  • 3 time Receiving TD leader (1964, 1965, 1966)
  • 3 time Touchdowns leader (1964, 1965, 1966)
  • 6 time First Team All-Pro (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968)
  • 7 time Pro Bowl (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969)
  • 2 time Yards from Scrimmage leader (1965, 1966)
  • 1 time All-Purpose Yards (1965)
  • 1963 AFL Player of the Year
  • NFL 100 All Time Team
  • Inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions in 1977
  • Number 19 Retired by Chargers
  • Inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1988
  • Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978

Get a Lance Alworth Rookie for Your Collection

Do you want to own a 1963 Fleer Lance Alworth Rookie (#72)? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay — the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.


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All About Lance Alworth Rookies Infographic

Lance Alworth Rookie Cards Infographic
Lance Alworth Rookie Cards Infographic

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