Thirty-four graduating senior baseball players from St. Louis metropolitan public high schools had the unique opportunity to compete against one another on the legendary field of the 2011 World Champions during the Delta Dental’s SmilesLEAGUE Coaches’ Choice All-Star Baseball Game. Players representing and were among the two teams, .
Mark Hencken was the player from chosen to play in this All-Star game; Tyler Manne was the player representing .
The game was played Saturday, following the 1:15 p.m. St. Louis Cardinals vs. Kansas City Royals baseball game.
Admission to the game was free. Each of the SmilesLEAGUE all-star athletes was pre-selected by their school’s coaching staff. Players were randomly combined to form the “All-Star Blue Team” and the “All-Star Green Team.”
The blue team lead by coach Scott Cooper got off to a hot start scoring 7 runs in the first three innings. Their pitcher and eventual MVP Pattonville’s Shane Hartwig had a dominate performance through those three innings only allowing one base runner. Their pitching strength continued with Carnahan’s Demetrius Cunningham coming in and throwing two innings of no-hit ball. But back came the green team lead by coach Kerry Robinson in the bottom of the seventh. The inning started with a leadoff walk drawn by Gateway Tech’s Anthony Richardson, he was brought in when the bases were loaded and Parkway Central’s Logan Boyher got hit by the pitch. The green team would eventually score 3 runs to get them on the board. The scoring continued in the 8th with one more run, but would soon be halted by the pitching of Bayless’ Alfred Parisi and his middle infield recording the last six outs. The final score of the 2012 Delta Dental SmilesLEAGUE All-Star Game would end blue team 8, green team 4.
The "All-Star Blue Team” was coached by former Cardinals third baseman Scott Cooper, a St. Louis native who played high school baseball for the Pattonville Pirates, spent seven seasons in the major leagues and was a member of the American League All-Star team in both 1993 and 1994.
The “All-Star Green Team” was coached by former Cardinals outfielder Kerry Robinson, who is also a St. Louis native. Robinson was a three-sport athlete for the Hazelwood Spartans and went on to play for the Tampa Bay Rays and was a Cardinal from 2001 to 2003, appearing in the post-season in 2001 and 2002.
The event got under way with a Home Run Derby competition. Participants were selected by Cooper and Robinson based on statistics from the 2012 high school baseball season and included “All-Star Blue Team” players Kevin Phillips (University City), Ed Pilgrim (Parkway West) and Lucas Tamaran (Ladue Horton Watkins); and “All-Star Green Team” players Clayton Evans (Rockwood Summit), Brandon Harrell (Cleveland Junior Naval Academy) and Sean Ullrich (Marquette). Each player was pitched 10 balls by former Cardinals pitcher Scott Terry and scored according to distance.
The game was announced by Jennings High School’s head baseball coach Lance Hash and Gerald Quincy Jones. The national anthem was presented by Brianna Hernandez from Carnahan High School. Fredbird and Delta Dental’s Tooth Wizard were also on hand entertaining attendees.
In addition, representatives of Delta Dental continued to promote its new oral health initiative designed to help create a tobacco-free generation of healthy kids. St. Louis native and Cardinals David Freese is the spokesperson for this campaign.
Monica Green, manager of corporate communications for Delta Dental of Missouri stated in a post-event release: “Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. It can cause health-related problems for teens at an early age, including periodontal disease, coughing, shortness of breath and other issues related to nicotine addiction. The fact is that we cannot end the tobacco epidemic without focusing our efforts on young people. Nearly 100 percent of adults who smoke every day started smoking when they were 26 or younger, so early prevention is key. If we can prevent adolescents from using tobacco before the age 18, the chances are high that they will not take up the habit.”
Each SmilesLEAGUE All-Star signed a tobacco-free pledge, acknowledging they do not smoke or chew and outlining their willingness to advocate no-smoking and no-chewing lifestyle choices among Missouri’s youth. The public service announcements, featuring David Freese, are currently airing during Cardinals game broadcasts and can be accessed online.
Additional information tied to creating a tobacco-free generation of healthy kids is available on Delta Dental’s microsite.
As part of the all-star game, Delta Dental also spearheaded a fundraising component to benefit the Cardinals Care, Give Kids A Smile and Delta Dental Health Theatre organizations. Raffle tickets were available for $2 per ticket (or three tickets for $5). Prize packages included the opportunity to meet Cardinals third baseman, David Freese, along with four field-level tickets to the Cardinals home game on Aug. 4; four tickets to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and festivities in Kansas City on July 10 - 12, 2012; and jerseys autographed by David Freese and Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright.
Editor's Note: Thanks to Monica Green of Delta Dental of Missouri and Kelly Harris of The Hauser Group for this article's details.