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Short Shifts

Flyers naming contest won by 9-year-old in 1966

Narberth, Pennsylvania, resident received two season tickets, color TV

by Cristina Ledra @cledra / Staff Writer

An ordinary trip to the grocery store 50 years ago ended with the Stockard family from Narberth, Pennsylvania, becoming a permanent part of Philadelphia Flyers history.


It was 9-year-old Alec Stockard's ballot that was pulled as the winner in the new NHL team's naming contest from the 242 boxes located exclusively in Acme supermarkets in the Philadelphia area.

The Flyers are celebrating their 50 years in the NHL this season, and winning the contest remains something the Stockards remember as a special time for their family.

That July day in 1966, Alec accompanied his 7-year-old brother Hamilton and mother, Jeanne, to the store. Jeanne noticed the contest set up in the back of the store and picked up a ballot for each of the nine Stockard children to fill out.

They hadn't been much of a hockey household before that, and Alec needed some help thinking of a good name.

"He says 'I don't know what to call them,'" Hamilton Stockard told "My sister said, 'Well, they fly around on the ice and make goals,' and he said, 'Well, I think I'll call them the Flyers.' And he asked my mom, 'Mommy, how do you spell "Flyers?"' And she was really smart. She was really clever and she said, 'The proper way to spell "Flyers" is f-l-i-e-r-s,' and that's why he picked that name."

On Aug. 3, 1966, the team selected "Flyers" as the winning name out of 11,216 ballots cast. The 96 entrants who submitted "Flyers" or "Fliers" all won tickets, but Alec was the grand prize winner of two season tickets and a 21-inch RCA color television, which retailed for around $400.

"At the time, we had a 13-inch black and white TV for the nine of us, so when we got the TV, that was really a plus," Hamilton said.

The new technology wasn't without its flaws, however. Hamilton said the television was controlled by a clicking noise from the remote, but every time the family dog walked by, the noise of its chain would change the channel.

Alec was able to attend the first game in Flyers history before the family made the difficult decision to sell the rest of the tickets. Alec died at the age of 20, but Hamilton grew into a Flyers fan in the "Broad Street Bullies" era in the 1970s.

After he won the contest, Alec had a chance to meet Flyers president William R. Putnam, a moment that was captured as one of the earliest in franchise history.

"We were so happy for Alec and for ourselves," Hamilton said, "because he had done something so important for the family."

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