A look at 'Mormon Night' at professional sporting events

By Kenneth Sisler

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25 2012 6:00 p.m. MST

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, a returned missionary, greets Bay Area LDS youth before a June 15 game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Brinly Nearon

Enlarge photo»

Faith and professional sports have been in the public eye recently with Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow kneeling, bowing his head and praying before games.

Many professional sports teams have faith nights for the Jewish community, Catholics and Mormons, among others.

Major League Baseball spokesman Matt Bourne stated in an article in USA Today that baseball "has confidence in our clubs to conduct ballpark promotions that are appropriate in tone and conduct."

Here is a list of just a few:

Aug 21, 2011: The Denver-based Colorado Rockies held their seventh annual Faith Day.

Aug. 18, 2011: The Philadelphia Phillies have held several Jewish Heritage Nights. On this night, Jewish Heritage Night featured people enjoying traditional Jewish dancing on the field with the two Philly Phanatics mascots.

Aug. 12, 2011: The Baltimore Orioles hosted Mormon Night at the ballpark for the fourth consecutive year. The Orioles met Mormon fans in the stands and signed autographs and posed for photographs. Baltimore pitcher Jeremy Gutherie is LDS and a returned missionary.

July 22, 2011: The Los Angeles Dodgers hosted their annual Mormon Night. Joshua Creek, an LDS group, sang the national anthem and "God Bless America" in the seventh-inning stretch. The Dodgers have held Mormon Night for more than 20 years.

According to a story in the Deseret News, one young man who attended the game was getting married the next day in the Los Angeles Temple. He said attending the game was his bachelor party.

Elder Jerryl Garns, an Area Seventy, noted that several members had used the game as a friendshipping opportunity.

The Los Angeles Dodgers also hosted United Methodist Night and Episcopalian Night in 2011.

July 5, 2011: The San Francisco Giants hosted Mormon Night. The LDS Church members involved in Mormon Night are often from public affairs and are quite creative at these events. A video was shown of Mormon Helping Hands in California. The video featured humanitarian work that the LDS Church does such as collecting items for food banks, blood drives and a Scout decorating a grave at the Golden Gate National Memorial cemetery. Seven Latter-day Saints were honored for outstanding public service at the game. These members were chosen by LDS members who live in the Bay Area. Travis and Trent Weaver, twin brothers who serve in the U.S. Army, were honored. Both have served in Iraq.

June 25, 2011: The San Diego Padres held Mormon Night. LDS Church members wearing Mormon Helping Hands vests and T-shirts lined the field.

June 8, 2011: The Columbus Crew hosted Real Salt Lake for Mormon Night.

May 22, 2011: The Florida Marlins had their first ever Inspirational Forum after a game. Chris Coghlan, who is a player on the team, discussed his devotion to his faith.

May 1, 2011: The Kansas City Royals hosted Faith and Family Day.

April 10, 2011: The Golden State Warriors held Jewish Heritage Night. A question-and-answer session was held with Omri Casspi, who was born in Israel and plays for Sacramento, the team the Warriors faced that night.

April 9, 2011: The San Antonio Spurs had Mormon Night when the Spurs hosted the Utah Jazz. Sean Elliott, one of the stars of the Spurs, was given a copy of his genealogy.

Jan. 21, 2011: The Boston Celtics held Mormon Night when they hosted the Utah Jazz. A group of senior missionary couples serving in the Boston area attended the game. One of the couples was Sister Nicki and Elder Evan Excell, who were serving in the Boston welfare employment volunteer resource center. Some of the couples were from Utah so they were excited to see the Jazz play.

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