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Monday, Dec 18, 2017
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Otto: Beepball giants are ready to rumble

The team is set and you can only imagine the fear and trepidation at the Lighthouse for the Blind as they get ready for Saturday’s 25th annual Beepball Classic inside Steinbrenner Field. Sure, we’ve lost 23 of the last 24 games, and there is the intimidation factor of moving into the big stadium. But this year we’re ready for the 2:30 p.m. game, which will precede the Tampa Yankees game, with fireworks later. As coach of the celebrity All-Stars, many of whom have never tried to hit a beeping softball while blindfolded much less find the beeping base, the workouts have been strenuous, or would have been if anyone had shown up. At least there are veterans on the squad, such as News Channel 8 anchor Gayle Guyardo, weather anchors Steve Jerve and Leigh Spann, and traffic reporter Leslee Lacey.
We’ve even got Marine Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Fineran from MacDill Air Force Base. I’m putting him in charge of running the players through exercise drills, and maybe even an obstacle course, before the game. Kidding aside, Fineran holds the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star, is a hero, and we are honored to have him at our game. Bucified Bert, who is a little hard to explain, is also in the lineup, along with Pinetop Peterson and his strange mojo hand. Another team member is the mysterious grappler Dr. Doom. There are elected officials, a Buccaneer or two, our own food guy Jeff “Food Truck” Houck, legendary music man Johnny G. Lyon and the Yankees’ Tim Guidry, who is more front office than player but claims they are missing a bet not starting him. Following a column on a company reunion, it seems like everyone has a story about shopping at the old Tampa-based Maas Brothers. Here are two: “In your reflections of an era that was superior in downtown shopping, don’t forget about the marvelous individuals who helped to have thousands of paying customers come through. Maas Brothers was one of the first downtown stores to allow blacks to have charge privileges along with Farner’s Shoes and Ross Fabrics of Ybor City. “Those of us who modeled in their television commercials are not usually singled out, however Maas Brothers did sponsor a young African American woman in the Ebony Fashion Fair from Tampa in 1976. … We modeled with several Miss Universe winners. Became Tea Room models and Teen Board models. One of the models helped integrate local TV in 1963. “There were also black executives before I modeled on television. Mrs. Miriam Wilson Allen was manager of the Children’s Clothing department,” wrote Jacqueline N. Cotman, a Maas Brothers TV commercial model from 1968 to 1973. A common theme of many of the letters was this: “There was nothing like walking inside Maas Brothers with its Christmas decorations, music and happy, well-dressed crowds to capture the joy and spirit of the Christmas season. Going shopping at Maas Brothers was part of the rituals that included the fun of trimming the Christmas tree and the sheer thrill of Christmas morning. Thanks for a walk down memory lane,” wrote Tony Pizzo.
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