Reusse: After giving all, former Twins manager Quilici seeks givers

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 9, 2013 - 12:24 AM

The former Twins player and manager, who had a kidney transplant, is asking fans to become organ donors.

hide

Former Twin Frank Quilici cheered during a clinic in 2012.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Laura Domanowska and Guido Quilici met working at a neighborhood bakery on the near South Side of Chicago. They were married, stayed right there and raised two children, Frank and Rose Marie.

Frank made it to the big leagues as an infielder with the Twins in the pennant-winning season of 1965. Over the next 17 years, he was a player, a coach, a manager (mid-1972 through 1975) and a radio announcer for the team.

Through this time, there was a tradition when the Twins played the White Sox at Comiskey Park. It involved the sausages prepared by Frank’s mother and lugged to the ballpark by Guido a couple of hours before the first game of a series.

“Ma would get Roma Italian sausages and the bread from Fontana’s and then she added her incredible sauce,” Frank said. “Pa would bring them to the ballpark in ‘Polish luggage’ … paper bags.

“Pa took care of everyone, including the broadcasters. Harry Caray was with the White Sox. One night he said to Jimmy Piersall, ‘I’m going on a diet for a few days.’ Jimmy asked why, and Harry said, ‘The Twins are going to be in town and I need room for Momma Qua-leechi’s sausage sandwiches.’ ”

My first two years on the Twins beat were 1974 and 1975, with Frank as the manager. It was an interesting way to break in: watching a young manager continue to fight against futility, even when his toughest opponent was ownership.

In 1974, Calvin Griffth gave Quilici a three-man coaching staff: pitching coach Bob Rodgers, plus old-timers Ralph Rowe and Vern Morgan. Rowe and Morgan didn’t throw batting practice, meaning Quilici and Rodgers threw thousands of BP pitches over the course of the season.

In 1975, the Twins kept outfielder Steve Brye on the active list for several weeks with a cast on his broken hand. Calvin’s response to Quilici’s plea for a usable player was, “Brye can pinch-run.”

That’s what Quilici faced in those cash-strapped days for the Twins. The fact he went 280-287 (including 82-80 in 1974) made Frank more a magician than a failed manager.

Quilici left the Twins broadcast team after the 1982 season and went to work for Western Diversified, a company that works with car dealers. He had a good run there, and married Lila in 2000.

Frank has been involved in numerous charitable causes in Minnesota. His passion today is promoting organ donorship, and for good reason.

Quilici lost the function of a kidney a decade ago. The cause was “high blood pressure,” which may or may not have started with the irresistibility of Roma sausages on Fontana’s bread, with Ma’s sauce.

“The other kidney started going downhill a few years ago,” Quilici said. “We registered for a donor kidney. It was getting to the point that I was headed for dialysis.”

And then Elizabeth, the wife of Frank’s longtime pal Bobby, was tested, and she came out as a match. On May 14, 2012, Elizabeth donated a kidney to Frank.

“They didn’t take out a kidney … just put in a third one,” Quilici said. “I call her ‘Little Liz.’ She sits on my left hip.”

Things aren’t perfect. The BK virus that can attack transplanted organs struck Frank a while back. “I have 23 percent function in my working kidney,” he said. “You can live with that.”

The anti-rejection drug Quilici takes can have a negative impact on memory. His recollections are interrupted occasionally with a “Dang, I forgot.”

“Hey, we’re having ‘Donor Day’ at Target Field again this year, on June 29,” he said. “It’s all about awareness. My doctor, Jamie Gitter, has told me if we could get everyone to put ‘donor’ on their driver’s license, the problem would be taken care of.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 45 3rd Qtr
Indiana 51
Washington 42 3rd Qtr
Philadelphia 47
Golden State 27 2nd Qtr 11:00
Toronto 13
New York 23 2nd Qtr 10:06
Detroit 32
Orlando 21 2nd Qtr 8:58
Atlanta 34
Charlotte 34 2nd Qtr 6:10
Boston 39
LA Clippers 2 1st Qtr 9:19
Memphis 3
Brooklyn 3 1st Qtr 10:50
Houston 2
Miami 5 1st Qtr 9:33
New Orleans 6
Minnesota 4 1st Qtr 10:04
Chicago 4
Utah 8:00 PM
Denver
San Antonio 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Portland
Boston 1 2nd Prd 8:57
New Jersey 0
Calgary 0 2nd Prd 11:29
NY Islanders 1
Washington 0 2nd Prd 13:51
Carolina 1
Chicago 0 1st Prd :33
Tampa Bay 0
Colorado 7:30 PM
Dallas
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Siena 63 FINAL
Quinnipiac 73
Harvard 39 2nd Half 5:00
Cornell 42
Penn 30 2nd Half 16:52
Brown 49
Fairfield 34 2nd Half 20:00
Canisius 34
Manhattan 35 2nd Half 20:00
Iona 41
Saint Peters 27 2nd Half 18:35
Marist 45
Princeton 43 2nd Half 14:36
Yale 39
Ohio 0 1st Half 20:00
Akron 0
Dartmouth 6 1st Half 17:46
Columbia 0
Valparaiso 9:00 PM
Cleveland State
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 56 2nd Half 12:57
Xavier 34
Cornell 27 2nd Half 20:00
Harvard 23
Yale 19 2nd Half 14:30
(14) Princeton 45
Elon 30 2nd Half 12:17
Drexel 37
Northeastern 30 2nd Half 15:52
James Madison 43
St Johns 33 2nd Half 14:52
Butler 28
Creighton 50 2nd Half 12:35
Georgetown 42
Brown 35 2nd Half 13:57
Penn 54
Columbia 29 2nd Half 13:30
Dartmouth 39
Canisius 31 2nd Half 13:30
Siena 36
St Josephs Brooklyn 17 2nd Half
NJIT 32
Western Carolina 45 2nd Half 20:00
UNC Greensboro 33
Colorado 9 1st Half 13:49
Arizona 9
Southern Ill 7:00 PM
Bradley
Drake 9 1st Half 16:47
Wichita State 4
Indiana State 7 1st Half 13:20
Evansville 12
Illinois State 7:05 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Northern Iowa 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Utah 7:30 PM
(10) Arizona State
Providence 7:30 PM
Villanova
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which Twins player are you most interested in during spring training?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close