75 & Over South Florida Bingo Regional Finals

Phillip: Good afternoon everyone, I’m Philip Andover. Welcome to the Miralax 75 and Over South Florida Bingo Regional Finals here on ESPN 13. We are here in the recently renovated recreation room of Everglade Manor Retirement Homes in the lovely host city of Pompano Beach. As you know the National Senior Bingo League choses one city each year to host the regional finals. Local retirement homes compete to host the games and I have to say Everglade Manor spared no expense in renovating their recreation room into a first class facility. There is ample seating for folks with walkers, wheel chairs, and drag-along oxygen tanks. There are large screen televisions for easy viewing no matter what the state of your cataracts.  The press area has been expanded to accommodate press from all over the world.

Before I introduce my partner I was handed a message from my producer that says “Edna Rosenblatt’s 95th birthday party that was to be held in the east wing library today has been cancelled, as she fell this morning and broke her hip. Details on rescheduling will be announced soon. But you can stop by and see her if you’d like.”

Now, let me introduce my colleague, Henry “Hank” Matthews, who is a five-time Florida champion, two-time National champion, and placed second in the international championships in 2003 in the 50 and under league.

Hank:  Thanks, Phil. I’m glad to be here. This looks to be an exciting day of bingo. We have excellent players here today competing for a chance to advance to the Florida State finals and then to the National Tournament in Branson, Missouri later this year. The Grand Prize is an all-expense paid trip for your grandkids to visit you with three-day passes to all the Disney and Universal Studio attractions.

Phillip:  Let’s get started with a brief introduction of the four players competing today. At table one in the every stylish blue velour track suit is Chester Block. He’s an 83 year old retired mailman from Detroit, Michigan. He is also the local favorite here, having lived at Everglade Manor for the past ten years. Hank, can you tell us a little about his playing style?

Hank: Sure. Hank is an old school player. Very intense. He takes the game quite seriously. And he trash-talks a lot. He’s been known to throw less experienced players off their game by making his hearing aid squeal during intense moments or spitting out his dentures when he wants to taunt another player that has made a bad move or missed a call.

Phillip: What about the player at table two?

Hank: That would be Tom “Chappy” Chapman, a retired contractor and grandfather of ten. He resides at Palmetto Bay Senior Living in Miami Garden. Of particular note is this his first year playing at the senior, 75 and over level.  He was quite the player in the 65-74 division. In an interview with him earlier, he expressed surprise at the higher level of play in the 75 and Over division. But he is a smart player and has always trained hard –and the evidence of that is his presence here today. During the offseason he stays in tip top shape by playing bingo against all ten of his grandchildren at once, sometimes blindfolded.

Phillip: You mean blindfolds his grandchildren?

Hank:  Ha-ha. No. Hank plays blindfolded.

Phillip:  OK. He’s dedicated player to be sure. We should expect to see good things from him in the coming years.

Hank: As long as he keeps the blood pressure under control.

Phillip: Hank, you sly devil! What excellent segue to our first commercial break from Acme Laboratories. Bleepbloporzqual, while fun to say, is also an excellent beta blocker for controlling high blood pressure – like in high stakes bingo games. We’ll be right back.

[Commercial break]

Phillip: Welcome back, everyone, to ESPN’s coverage of the 75 and Over South Florida Bingo Regional Finals.  Now, Hank, let’s talk about the player at table three.

Hank: Joe Dylan, who is a retired actor from New York, now living on Coral Springs. Joe has been a long term fixture on the tournament and a crowd favorite, being quite the ham. He’ll sometimes dab his numbers with his nose, toes, or elbows. Once, he even dabbed a winning number with his “Little Joe.”

Phillip: Oh, yes. The infamous game in 2010. After that he became known as the “Tallahassee Tallywhacker”.

Hank: To his defense he had a little mixed up with his nitroglycerin and Cialis and was dealing with a longer than average erection.  He was briefly suspended from play by the National Senior Bingo League while they investigated if either of these drugs individually or in combination should be considered “performance enhancing drugs” that would give him an unfair advantage over the rest of the players

Phillip: Joe was suspended for several games while the NSBL investigated, but in the end he was cleared of any wrong doing. However, the NSBL did make some changes for men’s play. For example, bikinis are no longer allowed for spectators and women must show as little ankle as possible.

Hank:  After that game Joe did receive a lot more attention from single ladies at his and other nearby retirement homes. There was some talk of him not coming back, but he’s here, pumped (well, not that kind of pumped), and ready to play. And from the sounds of it Joe has a group of fans here. I see a group of ladies holding up signs. One says “I got your O69 right here, Joe!”

[Both chuckle.]

Phillip: I think we should move on. At table four, we have Burt Wallace, the reigning Florida champion and second place winner at the national tournament, where he lost in a heartbreaking match against the Beatrice Johnson, the “Little Old Lady from Pasadena.”  Hank, we called that game together last year. Tell us more about it.

Hank:  That was a tough game for sure. It was Burt versus Beatrice in a three-card Loser Match. Burt had a number called on two of his cards, while Beatrice had none. The next two numbers hit Beatrice’s cards. Then with each player having one card left, six numbers were called with the no hits. And then, nearing midnight, with all of us sitting on the edge of our seats, B2 was called, which as on Burt’s last card. It was a tough, tough lost for Burt. He had had a fantastic season, nearly going undefeated.

Phillip: Tough game indeed. There is just no way to prepare for that.  Burt spent many weeks reviewing the tape of the game to see if he could have done anything different.

Hank: Nevertheless, Burt has bounced back, has had a strong season, and is ready to play today.

Phillip: Thanks, Hank. We have to take a commercial break now, but when we come back we will go over the format of the matches. We’ll be right back after these messages from our sponsor, the AARP.


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