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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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Page 72 of 117

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 73 Boilermaker football team, on the way to the Indi- ana-Purdue game in 1903. He has a ticket for a game that was never played, as well as rare photos of the wreckage. One of his greatest treasures is a Rose Bowl game ball signed by Purdue players that was given to astronaut Roger Chaffee after Purdue's dra- matic one-point Rose Bowl win. Less than a month later, Chaffee was killed in the Apollo 1 fire, which also took the life of Purdue grad Gus Grissom. It doesn't take much time with Pate to realize he does this for reasons that have nothing to do with financial gain. In a sense, he is already a curator of his own mu- seum. "As they say, one man's trash is another person's trea- sure," said Pate, who admits scouring the Internet, eBay in particular, daily for Purdue sports items. "You're nev- er sure where items will come from. That's what keeps me excited. "That's especially true when you get to a more advanced stage like I am with this collection, to the point where you see things you've never seen before. When that happens, it rejuvenates you. "It's a different day. Antique malls are closing down. Things are shifting to auctions and online, which is good and bad. I can sit at home and find Purdue stuff on my computer. The flip side is there is more exposure, so more people and more money involved." One person who is eager to see Pate's collection is Or- lando Itin, who has a phenomenal collection of his own at the restaurant he and his family own in West Lafayette, Bruno's. "I have met Chris several times in our restaurant, and I admire his passion," said Itin, who like Pate would love to see a permanent sports museum blossom at Purdue. "Luckily there are guys like Chris, and (associate athletics director) Tom Schott, who show great interest in these items of history. "I often think had Purdue just won one of the Heismans in the 1960s (Griese, Leroy Keyes and Mike Phipps all finished runner-up) we would have a museum on campus right now. It's al- most like we need an item that big, that everyone wants to see, to ignite the passion of all fans, not just those of us who are extra interested." In the meantime, Pate and Itin will continue to build their collections. And it is not shocking that Pate struggles to name his top-10 favorite items. He is proud of his collection of every Purdue-Indiana game program for games played in the last 100 years, with the exception of 1917. That one has required patience and persistence. "But I really want to find that 1917 program," Pate said. "It's all out there somewhere. I also have all but 15 of the Purdue-IU game tickets dating back to 1910, but I don't have 1993. I want that one, too." When pressed to name a few of his favorites, Pate starts with those rare photos and items he has from the train trag- edy to items signed by John Wooden, to the ceremonial coin used for the toss prior to Purdue's battle with USC in the 1967 Rose Bowl to Robinson's Silver Basketball for being named Big Ten MVP in 1994. Then there is the game ball from the Purdue-IU hoops game in 1900. You get the point. The items do the talking, but Pate is still doing the learning. The discovery. And maybe the most impressive thing about Pate is how he has come to learn the story of Purdue sports. He grew up in SEC Country in Nashville, and didn't see his first Purdue football game until he arrived on campus as a student. But in the 22 years since, he not only knows the details of the items, but he has taken the time to learn why the items are important, why they are relevant. Why they have meaning and value. That in itself is reason for taking Pate up on his offer to see his collection. You won't be disappointed. j Route 66 Diner and Triple XXX Family Restaurants salute all of the people that love the great names and traditions of Purdue sports from Duane Purvis to Bob Griese to David Boudia to Ashley Burkhardt to the Old Oaken Bucket. Indiana's Oldest Drive-In On the Hill, But on the Level Since 1929

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