MLB, TeamSmile provide dental screening in St. Paul
Event was part of the All-Star Week Legacy project happening in Twin Cities
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Nearly a half-century ago, Frank Quilici hit a double off Sandy Koufax in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. It was one of only three Twins hits that game as the Dodgers survived, 2-0, to win it all.
On Saturday, Quilici proudly wore his 1965 American League Championship ring at the Boys & Girls Club in East Saint Paul, where Major League Baseball and the Twins were participating in a TeamSmile event for about 300 kids to provide dental screening and education.
It was part of the unprecedented All-Star Week Legacy project that has former Twins like Quilici out in the Twin Cities each day for significant community initiatives that will make a difference long after the 85th All-Star Game has been played on Tuesday night at Target Field (watch on FOX).
"This is wonderful," Quilici said with a broad smile, after asking kids to show him their teeth. "You know, you play your whole career in a place, and then all of a sudden the All-Star Game comes here, and you get a chance to be part of it. It's phenomenal what they're doing.
"Baseball is the thing that pulls it all together. What they're doing with the kids -- there are so many things that dovetail, bringing the community together. This has just been spectacular. I just love it. Any time we get a chance to help kids go in the right direction, we know what it's all about, and we want to help out. Baseball has always been great for that."
MLB and Arm & Hammer, through official MLB sponsor Church & Dwight, sponsor the TeamSmile event as kids received $150,000 worth of free preventative care and education -- and, if necessary, follow-up dental treatment. MLB also gave tickets for the T-Mobile All-Star FanFest to the kids and volunteers.
TeamSmile is one of the nation's premier advocacy groups that partners oral health professionals with athletic organizations to provide life-changing dental care to children. The goal is to provide quality dental care, including oral health education, screening, treatment and preventative care, at no cost to underserved youth. Since 2007, TeamSmile has provided more than $4.3 million of oral health care services to 9,825 children through 14 different sports organizations.
Quilici, the Twins' second baseman in the 1965 World Series and a Twins manager from 1972-75, was one of the dignitaries at this event along with TeamSmile founder Dr. Bill Busch; Cindy Manzo, Church & Dwight's manager of marketing service; emcee DJ Kirby, a local personality; and the omnipresent Tom Brasuell, MLB's vice president of community affairs -- who happens to be product of a New York Boys & Girls Club in his youth.
"It brought back great memories," Brasuell said. "To this day I still brush twice a day, two minutes. I ate a lot of candy as a kid. Stopping in the morning and evening, lunchtime -- Jolly Ranchers, Charms lollipops, Tootsie Roll pops, you name it. I still have a big sweet tooth today. The bad news is that as a result, all my teeth have fillings in them, because I had cavities in all my teeth.
"Back then at the Boys & Girls Club in New York, they gave you a screening. You couldn't use the gym or swimming pool until you had your dental or your physical. So you made sure you got your screening. Then after your initial screening, they'd tell you if you needed a follow-up whether it was for fillings or just for cleaning. Year by year I had a filling until top and bottom I think everyone has a filling.
"I go to the dentist today and they say, 'Who did this dental work?' I tell them it was done at the Boys & Girls Club when I was a kid, for two dollars. They say, 'This work is phenomenal, they don't make this kind of work, they don't make these kind of fillings anymore. Your work will last a lifetime.' So it's great to see that these kids are getting that same benefit here today at the Boys & Girls Club of Twin Cities."
TeamSmile was created in 2007 by Busch, a dentist in the Kansas City area who was inspired to take action after watching a Brian Williams TV report about a child who died due to an untreated abscessed tooth. Busch knew that tooth decay was five times more common than asthma and that, left untreated, such poor dental health could affect other areas of the body.
Events such as the one Saturday bring volunteers in scrubs from not only the local market, but in this case as far away as Indianapolis. Kids sat in the many chairs as they were screened, and where needed were given fillings. Crowns were made on the spot. Loud music created energy and drowned out the sound of any drills. Busch said an event like this has a lifelong impact on kids, and indeed one large family walked out of the club with the mother explaining to her son that candy and sugary drinks can be harmful to teeth and that brushing regularly is a must.
Mission accomplished, children reached. Someday those might be pearly whites that help a person get a first date or win over a prospective employer. They walked out wearing backpacks filled with dental hygiene.
"Smiles impact lives," Busch told the kids and their families. "We want to make sure kids are brushing two minutes for two times a day for the healthy, perfect smile."
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.