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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Outback pigskin sparks memories of gifts past



CLEARWATER-- CLEARWATER ---Just after Mayor George Cretekos caught a commemorative Outback Bowl football at Thursday night’s City Council meeting, he announced that the pigskin would be displayed on the ground floor of City Hall.

Which begs the question, what happens to the Outback Bowl football from last year, currently on display in a glass case at City Hall?

“We’ll put it in the office somewhere,” Cretekos said, before a flash of inspiration. “You know, Clearwater for Youth has an annual raffle, maybe we’ll give it to them to raffle off.”

Outback Bowl officials bestowed the gift to the city as a gesture of thanks for opening Clearwater Beach for the bowl’s annual Beach Day.

This year, fans, marching bands, players and coaches for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and the Louisiana State University Tigers played on the sand for much of the afternoon of Dec. 30.

The football, signed by Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and LSU coach Les Miles, is the latest in a string of presents received by the city over the years.

Clearwater’s sister city of Nagano, Japan has gifted replica Samurai armor  and a hand-embroidered silk kimono, now on display in the city’s Municipal Services Building and Main Library.

When the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series, the team, which trains at Bright House Field in the spring, sent the city a championship ring valued at $12,000.

City officials, fearing a smash and grab, squirreled the ring away in a vault, whose location is kept secret for fear of some local Ocean’s Eleven-type crew making off with the major-league bling.

But Cretekos said it might be time to lift the lockdown and let some spring sunshine fall on the World Series ring.

“Maybe we should bring that ring out when spring training starts,” Cretekos said.

Pitchers and catchers report to Bright House Field on Thursday, Feb. 13.


[Last modified: Friday, February 7, 2014 5:28pm]


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