(From Greg Strick, firstname.lastname@example.org, Zionsville, IN)
On Saturday morning November 19, 1966, I was among a number of ND students who went up to East Lansing to attend the Notre Dame – Michigan State U “Game of the Century”. (See wikipedia.com, 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game). After the game ended in the famous 10-10 tie folks at our end of the stadium were cheering/celebrating and trying to take down the goal post. I too was really excited and was jumping up and down on the bench where I had been sitting. That was Seat No. 32, at the end of a row, in the end zone seating toward which ND was moving at the end of the game. Unfortunately, I did not save my ticket to know exactly what row I was in. But during the excitement, the redwood bench plank that I was jumping on happened to shatter, the largest end piece retaining the seat number and the bolts. I must say, and I swear, that I did not intentionally break the bench, and I wanted to clean up the fragments. But in doing so, as it also happened, I returned to campus with the bench fragment. At first I just had it hanging on my wall in my room in Badin, but after coming back from the holidays in January 1967 I thought that the best thing to do would be to go around to the National Championship coaching staff and team members to see if anyone would sign the bench. In fact, they did, and the more that signed it, the cooler it became, and the happier others were to sign it. After graduating I had kept the bench for nearly 52 years without any fanfare, having it hanging in one office or room after another, sharing the story with friends and family. I didn’t get back to campus much since I was either working internationally, or living in California. Finally, nearer to our 50th Reunion, now nearly three years ago, I decided to donate it to the University to a function that could have it placed somewhere in Heritage Hall with the 1966 Championship trophy or related memorabilia commemorating the 10-10 tie to enable the entire ND family to enjoy it. I opted not to donate it to University Archives since I learned it would probably not get as much viewing. Fortunately, I was able to hook up with the Monogram Club just prior to our Reunion and during that weekend I donated it. Working with them, I was thrilled to have it placed in the Ara cabinet in Heritage Hall in the Joyce Center that has other items from Ara’s coaching years, including a write-up and photo of the ND-MSU game score board.
I had also included a couple of game buttons, including the “Annihilate State Nov 19, 1966” button, and an older newspaper article of the game. While on campus for Reunion 2018, I attended Rocky Bleier’s excellent one-man show “The Play”. I complimented him after the performance, and mentioned the bench that he had signed in January 1967. I thought he had a quiet look of recollection on his face, and I hope he may already have seen it in Heritage Hall. But I know I need to do much more to spread the word so that more of our class and other members of the Notre Dame family can enjoy it, either online or in person the next time they are on campus. I have included images of the bench and its current place in Ara’s cabinet, along with a pennant photo with names of the staff and team, and a current Wikipedia article to aid in remembering.