Pat Shingleton: "Number 17"
Growing up in a small town of 20,000 has its challenges, rewards and benefits. Ellwood City, PA sits about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. Western Pennsylvania was and remains a "hotbed" of football talent with numerous schools in a four state area scouting kids for football programs. Joe Namath was scouted by Notre Dame but didn't have the grades and gravitated to the University of Alabama. Joe Montana went to Notre Dame as did Terry Hanratty. You can also add Babe Perrilli to the list. When an all state half-back from Lincoln or Ellwood City High School was selected, it was big news in our hometown. He amazed us with his talents at Helling Stadium on those great Autumn evenings. His name was Charles Landolfi and we knew him as Chuck, Charlie or Chuckie. He wore number 17 for the fighting Irish and our brother Mike was also at Notre Dame when Chuckie played for their National Championship team in the 60s. When Mike secured tickets to the games, our brother Denis would transport us to South Bend in the '63 Volkswagen. I always remember great Fall weather there and also remember my Mom and Dad watching a game in a blinding snowstorm. The field at Notre Dame remains the same as it was many years ago. No logos or sponsorship paintings on the natural grass, just the yardage and hash markers and diagonal stripes in the end zone. There were no night games back then. This is the same stadium where Roger Staubach unloaded a pass with seconds left in the game to defeat the Irish. When asked where he knew to launch the pass, he said he aimed at Mary on the side of a particular building. It wasn't the Blessed Mother on the library building on the campus it's Jesus, often referred to as "Touchdown Jesus." This is where I believe the saying,"throwing the Hail Mary" originated, what better place than Notre Dame, the Golden Dome and the Grotto. We were all proud of Chuckie as I had the pleasure of working with him at a place called "Buddies" on Market Square in Pittsburgh. Charlie was our doorman and when I was hit in the head by a flying beer bottle, Charlie took care of that situation too. He was also the heavyweight champion of the boxing team and brother Mike was his "manager." With all of this noted I always remember Charlie getting into the games at Notre Dame and watching him play with the number 17 on his jersey. As my brother Mike noted yesterday, after hearing the news, "the body is gone but the spirit lives." Lots of us will be lifting a pint to Number 17, Charlie Landolfi.