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Major League event will benefit YMCA

Representatives from the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg, the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce and the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association held a reception at the Isla Del Sol Golf and Country Club on Wednesday evening to promote Swing With the Legends, a celebrity golf tournament scheduled Oct. 25.

Participants will compete along with onetime Major League players to raise money for the Y to provide membership scholarships and enhanced programming for before- and after-school child care, day camp and outreach programs.

Among those in the clubhouse for the kickoff event were Elise and Vern Farnsworth, Doug Linder, Bill Stover, David and Theresa McEachern, Hampton Hines, Mary Evertz, Mark and Mary Smith, Kevin and Brendan Minto, Chris Morley, Dick Crippen and Pete and Renee Roos.

Debbie Stambaugh, president and chief executive officer of the beaches chamber, said the organization had invited all the Florida gubernatorial candidates to the event.

She introduced Democratic hopeful Janet Reno, who had spent much of the day campaigning in Pinellas County. The former U.S. attorney general made no speech but greeted people after the event, along with her special assistant Josh D'Alemberte.

Vern Farnsworth is chairman of the golf tournament and said his family's involvement with the Y extends back to the 1840s, when his great-grandfather took a membership.

Farnsworth also is a longtime baseball fan and reminded his listeners of "the pure sound of a ball hitting a glove and a bat hitting a ball."

Committee member Jim Williams remembered growing up in St. Petersburg when the Cardinals came to town for spring training. For a while, his mother dated with a Cardinals scout, who would bring the legendary Stan Musial over when they made ice cream.

Ken Clay, a former New York Yankees right-hander who has experienced highs and lows inside and outside baseball, delivered the sports anecdote of the evening.

He was pitching against Boston in the first game of a series in the late '70s. Badly, too, giving up far too many hits and runs in the first inning.

Then-manager Billy Martin and catcher Thurman Munson went out to the mound. Neither made eye contact with the pitcher.

"How's he throwing?" Martin asked Munson.

"I don't know," the catcher replied. "I haven't caught one yet."

What fun it must have been aboard the "Debs Do Duck Tour" of the Sunshine City's downtown and waterfront July 20.

The party honored St. Petersburg debutantes, their parents and friends, with debs and their escorts boarding the amphibious craft in front of hostess Candy Scherer's waterfront home.

"Valiant, tough little voyagers, duck boats are," Cary Holladay writes in her newly published novel Mercury, "the quick-change artists of the transportation world."

The vehicles were designed during World War II to carry soldiers and supplies to beachheads that did not have ports. They have become popular tourist vehicles in St. Petersburg, Tampa and other cities throughout the country.

The debs returned after their jaunt to join other guests for a poolside dinner, where steel drum music played in the background.

Additional hosts included Maggi McQueen, Carol Ann and Bill Rhodes, J.C. and Carol Russell, Kim and Terry Brett, Connie and Brian Smith, Sally Poynter, Jane Link Zahn, Brad and Holly Hines, Chip and Ginger Levick, Leslie Ann Curry and Dav and Glenn Mosby.

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Already sold out, with nary an invitation sent, is the Valentino at the Vinoy spectacular scheduled Nov. 15.

The event will benefit the Stuart Society of the Museum of Fine Arts and feature couture fashions from Valentino and jewelry from Buccellati. Mary Perry, who is chairwoman of the event, enlisted the help of Marcelina, the private women's club in Tampa that has a Valentino boutique.

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Laurie Gray Groves of Lancaster, Ohio, is in New York this weekend, having won the grand prize in a corporate essay contest sponsored by her employer, Melaleuca: The Wellness Co. Groves is an account and sales representative for the company, which owns Nicole Miller cosmetics.

For her 200-word composition that praised the makeup line, she won a trip to visit the fashion designer in New York.

Her mother, Ruth Gray, lives in St. Petersburg.

In Florida, melaleuca is better known as an invasive plant called the punk tree.

In its native Australia, Melaleuca alternifolia is known as the tea tree, which produces essential oils used in products ranging from pharmaceuticals to cosmetics.

_ Mary Jane Park can be reached at (727) 893-8267; fax (727) 893-8675; e-mail; P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.