The type-written missive, fashioned on University of Notre Dame football letterhead, is framed and hangs in a room in the basement of Tony Barone's Lakewood home.
"I have heard that you are a very dedicated fan to the Fighting Irish. I understand you have also attended over 175 consecutive games. That's quite an accomplishment.
Tony Barone is surrounded by Notre Dame football memorabilia in the basement of his Lakewood home. The retired pharmacist has attended hundreds of Fighting Irish games over the last five decades. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
Your support of our football team is very much appreciated. Again, thank you for your support and enthusiasm for our team. Go Fighting Irish!
The letter, dated Jan. 2, 2007, is signed by Charlie Weis, who was then Notre Dame's head football coach.
And, no, Barone's consecutive home-game streak at South Bend is no typo.
From 1971 until about four or five years ago, Barone didn't miss a game at Notre Dame Stadium.
''My wife (Elaine) has always mentioned that we could have built a couple extra homes (with the money spent each fall during the college football season) and she's right,'' Barone said, ''but we wouldn't have had the memories.''
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Barone was 12 years old in 1946 when he visited the Notre Dame campus for the first time. Accompanying his father on a road trip to Chicago, the elder Barone asked his son if he wanted to stop in South Bend on the way.
Barone, who always listened to the Fighting Irish games on the radio back home, didn't hesitate.
''I wanted to see the stadium, so we found the caretaker and he opened the gates,'' Barone recalled. ''We talked down the tunnel and looked around. ... That really got the bug going.''
Six years later, in 1952, Barone, who had recently graduated from high school, returned to Notre Dame to begin his college career. On the last day of freshman orientation, Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, the school's president at the time, invited the new students to shake the hand of his special guest.
So at the appointed time, the 18-year-old Barone extended his right arm and shook the hand of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Four months later, Ike would become the 34th President of the United States.
That chance meeting with the future Commander in Chief was merely the start of Barone's love affair with the university.
Among the people he has come to know over more than half a century are Heisman Trophy winners Johnny Lujack, Leon Hart and Paul Hornung; former coaches Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz; and celebrities Dick Vitale, Regis Philbin and Phil Donahue.
Barone, 78 and a retired pharmacist, takes particular delight in one of the experiences he had with Donahue, the television talk-show host, after a Notre Dame game some years ago against Missouri.
While the performance on the field was poor and the weather was even worse, Barone and friends later retired to the University Club on campus, which was a favorite hangout for alumni. Wet and cold, Barone ran into Donahue's Notre Dame roommate.
''Hey, Tony,'' the man said, ''Donahue's socks are sopping wet. Do you have dry socks in your van?''
Barone returned to his conversion van, retrieved a pair of cashmere socks and gave them to Donahue. The problem was that those socks, which Barone had worn and washed only a few times, were purchased during the honeymoon that he and Elaine enjoyed in 1957.
''Phil was appreciative,'' Barone said with a laugh. ''He invited us out to dinner with about six other couples. We went to a place called The Wharf and we sat around and discussed everything. It was like one of his talk shows.''
Later, Donahue invited the group to his hotel room, which was equipped with a piano. At Donahue's urging the group, numbering more than a dozen, stood around the piano and sang songs.
Are you getting the idea that the football games were merely a bonus?
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Until a few years ago, Barone drove to all corners of the U.S. in his customized conversion van to cheer for the Fighting Irish. Usually in the company of family and friends, Barone has been able to acquire as many as 12 tickets per game when Notre Dame is playing at home.
Of course, traveling from Lakewood to South Bend, which is nearly 400 miles one way, was made easier because of the vans. Since 1971, he has owned three of them and each one could comfortably accommodate eight people. Depending on whether there was a golf outing planned en route, Barone and company would leave either Thursday or Friday and stay at a hotel in Goshen, Ind., a 45-minute drive from South Bend.
''After the last game of the season, I'd give (the hotel clerk) a schedule for the next year and she would set me up with all my rooms. In 1971 the hotel was a Holiday Inn. Our bill for the weekend was $39 and that included a basket of fruit.''
Barone has seen hundreds of contests since then, but he still counts the 1988 season as his favorite. That year, Notre Dame finished 12-0, claimed its 11th national championship and Barone was in attendance at every game. In addition to the seven games at Notre Dame Stadium, he also traveled to East Lansing, Mich., Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Tempe, Ariz.
Barone can also rattle off scores, game details and weather conditions from decades ago. And if he's unsure, he can look up the stats in the dozens and dozens of game-day programs that he has collected through the years, as well as the hundreds of ticket stubs that he keeps in a box in his basement hideaway.
''My wife asks me, 'How can you remember all this stuff and you can't remember to bring home quart of milk and a loaf of bread.'''
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When one enters Barone's basement shrine to Notre Dame, it is overwhelming. There are framed posters, letters, and photos, including a couple of Knute Rockne, hanging on the walls. There is a Lou Holtz mask above the couch, and jerseys and T-shirts are tacked to the ceiling. Heck, he even has the signatures from the Army/Notre Dame Legends Banquet, which was held in 1998. In attendance that evening were former Army stars Doc Blanchard, Glenn Davis and Pete Dawkins and former Irish greats Hart and Lujack, among others.
For good measure, he has programs dating back nearly 100 years, a bunch of photo albums, Notre Dame-related books of all sorts, two scale stadium replicas and a framed newspaper clipping from the Oct. 26, 1929 edition of the Pittsburgh Press that detailed Notre Dame's 7-0 win over Carnegie Tech. That just so happened to be the day Pitt Stadium was dedicated.
''I'm getting to the age now where there will be a time when I have to get rid of all this stuff,'' he said. ''I hope my grandkids want some of it.''
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Much to Barone's delight, the Fighting Irish are 10-0 this season and are No. 3 in the BCS standings.
''It hasn't been easy,'' Barone said, ''but it has been nice to be on top of the heap. I can't say enough about our defense. It's fantastic. They have good running backs, a young quarterback and a pretty good offensive line.
''I think the coach (Brian Kelly) is doing pretty well. I've been a little critical of some of his play-calling.''
But after spending his entire life rooting for the Fighting Irish, Barone has earned the right to voice his opinion.
Which brings a visitor to one final piece of memorabilia hanging from the wall.
The framed letter reads, in part:
I appreciate your loyal support for Notre Dame football and I hope that you and your wife will continue to cheer for the Fighting Irish.
The letter, dated October 1987, is signed by Lou Holtz.
''I've been fortunate,'' Barone said.
How's that for having the ''luck of the Irish?''