SAN FRANCISCO — LDS Family Night at AT&T Park felt a little bit like a typical family outing, except there were millionaire athletes and the view was spectacular.
The San Francisco Giants lost to the San Diego Padres, 5-3, in a National League West contest Tuesday July 5, but the first-place Giants' third loss in a row did little to dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Section 333 in the left field corner of the upper deck and surrounding areas were packed with Latter-day Saints who cheered loudly when the announcer acknowledged their presence just before the first pitch.
Most of the 41,403 in attendance did not come to be spiritually uplifted, but there was singing (30 full-time LDS missionaries harmonized a unique and well-done rendition of the National Anthem), socializing (who goes to a Major League Baseball game and actually watches the field the whole time?) and refreshment (beer vendors anywhere near Section 333 had a bad night, but the churros and cotton candy seemed popular).
Mormons were welcomed at the outset by the big center field scoreboard, which flashed "Welcome to LDS Family Night," and the public address announcer mentioned to the crowd that Latter-day Saints are well-known for humanitarian work around the world and that Mormons in the Bay Area were also serving their neighbors.
Six local Latter-day Saints were recognized in a ceremony near home plate prior to the game: Larry J. Frederick, a former Oakland police officer who became an advocate for blood donation after being struck by a drunken driver; Colette Ankenman, a 18-year-old woman from Danville, Calif., who started a non-profit entity to assist children around the world; Linda Higham from Lafayette, Calif., who advocates for children's literacy; Travis and Trent Weaver who served in the Army in Iraq; and Don Eaton, a Vietnam War veteran who served as mayor of San Carlos.
The first official LDS Family Night with the Giants was held in 2010 when American Idol contestant and Latter-day Saint Brooke White sang during the seventh-inning stretch.
The Giants are not the only professional sports team to recognize a good promotional opportunity.
In January, the NBA's Golden State Warriors in Oakland hosted an LDS Family & Friends Night when they played the Sacramento Kings.
Similar LDS-targeted promotions have been held by the NBA's San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets in recent years, and in August 2010 the Oakland A's held an LDS Day.
Edward L. Carter is an attorney, journalist and associate professor of communications.