MLB, Giants strengthen bond with Boys & Girls Clubs
Youth initiatives highlighted prior to Game 4 of World Series
By Mark Newman
SAN FRANCISCO -- When the 2007 All-Star Game came to AT&T Park, Major League Baseball and the host Giants dedicated a $1 million renovation of the Boys & Girls Club next to Candlestick Park and renamed it the Willie Mays Clubhouse. During Saturday's day-long recognition of youth as the backdrop to Game 4 of the World Series, MLB and the Giants returned to that facility and dedicated a renovated Teen Center as kids continue to benefit from high-profile baseball games here.
Making the event even more memorable for the kids who call the Willie Mays Clubhouse a home away from home, MLB and Church & Dwight Co. hosted a Team Smile event. Hundreds of children were provided with $150,000 worth of free preventative care and education, and if necessary, follow-up dental treatment. This follows the Team Smile dental screening event at a Boys & Girls Club in the Twin Cities during All-Star Week this summer.
"It feels great for the World Series to be back in San Francisco, and for Major League Baseball to use its biggest stage in order to connect with the Boys & Girls Club, It's an honor and I feel like we are really lucky to have the opportunity to showcase this Boys & Girls Club on the biggest stage of the year," said Travis Holley, 15, who stood next to Hall of Famer Willie Mays in 2007 at that dedication.
"[The Willie Mays Clubhouse] represents a safe space for kids to come after school for a safe environment where they can feel comfortable and be themselves. What it means to me personally, it's like a second home. It's a space where I always come, if I need a staff member to talk to, or if I just want to be with my friends in a safe environment."
For the sixth consecutive year, MLB is dedicating the first four games of the World Series to raising the awareness of important causes associated with charitable initiatives and MLB partners. In Kansas City, Game 1 was dedicated to veterans and military families with a focus on Welcome Back Veterans, and Game 2 put the spotlight on education and ALS awareness. In San Francisco, Game 3 was dedicated to advancing the fight against cancer and specifically Stand Up To Cancer, and Game 4 was about youth outreach all day and night, including a celebration of 18th year of partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
"We feel so fortunate to be in this position to be playing in the postseason and now the World Series, and one of the best things about that is it gives us the opportunity to be part of something that gives back to our community, that gives back to Boys & Girls Clubs," said Alfonso Felder, senior vice president of administration at the Giants. "We are very proud of the partnership Major League Baseball has with Boys & Girls Clubs nationally, but we are particularly proud of the partnership that we have here locally with Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco.
"We are thrilled to be part of the renovation of this clubhouse, which honors the greatest Giant of all time, Willie Mays. It sits here just blocks from where Willie Mays played so much of his career. We have a field behind us where Junior Giants play, that [former Giants pitcher] Kirk Reuter made happen. So we feel that our history and the Boys & Girls Clubs' history are so tied together, and that's part of who we are, it's part of our DNA, and we're incredibly proud and happy that this World Series not only showcases the talent that's on the field with the Royals and Giants, but it also gives us the opportunity to show the amazing work that's being done at Boys and Girls Clubs across the country, particularly here in San Francisco."
The ceremony to commemorate a refurbishment (new carpeting, painting, furniture and technology) at the Willie Mays Clubhouse was attended along with Felder by Tom Brasuell, MLB vice president of community affairs, Rob Connolly, president of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, Frank Sanchez, vice president at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Dr. Bill Busch, founder of Team Smile, and Church & Dwight representation.
"Any time you can be focusing our attention as a society on our young people, it's tremendously important," Connolly said. "Major League Baseball's partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America is one of the most important things that Boys & Girls Clubs of America can do for its local clubs. The exposure that the brand gets is just tremendous. ... You want parents to sign up and trust the Boys & Girls Clubs, and having that endorsement in those Clubs from Major League Baseball is a big deal."
"As part of the 2007 All-Star Game, Major League Baseball, the Giants and others partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs to renovate this facility and rename it the Willie Mays Clubhouse," Brasuell said. "Today, we are pleased to be here as we unveil some new renovations, a new refurbishment to the Teen Center, some excellent stuff for kids here in the community. There is new technology, new furniture, and a great new space."
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.
Maryah Sullivan, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's National Youth of the Year, delivered the game ball that night. Sullivan, 18, is a student at the University of South Florida and was a member of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Joe R. Lee Branch.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.