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A look at 'Mormon Night' at professional sporting events

By Kenneth Sisler

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 25 2012 6:30 p.m. MST

Dec. 7, 2010: The Florida Panthers held a Hanukkah celebration at a game complete with a lighting of a Menorah in the parking lot. There is a large Jewish population in the Miami area where the team is based.

Aug. 19, 2010: The Oakland Athletics hosted Tampa Bay for Mormon Night. Vernon Law, who won the Cy Young Award and pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates when they won the World Series in 1960 over the New York Yankees, was interviewed in the third inning.

According to a story in the LDS Church News, Jessica Scott, an A's group sales representative, was very pleased with the turnout considering it was a weeknight and several schools had already started their year.

To honor the LDS Scouts in attendance and to honor the 100th anniversary of Scouting, each uniformed Scout was given a Scout Day patch. The Scouts were shown on the Jumbotron in the seventh inning.

Aug. 7, 2010: The Arizona Diamondbacks hosted LDS Friends and Family Night.

Feb. 19, 2010: The Golden State Warriors hosted Mormon Night. Thurl Bailey, a former star with the Utah Jazz, was interviewed about his basketball career. The following night, a fireside featuring Bailey was held.

2009: The St. Louis Rams held Christian Family Day.

July 27, 2007: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim hosted Mormon Night. In the same year the Angels also held Catholic Night.

2005: This was my one and only time attending a Mormon Night. The Toronto Blue Jays were playing at home to the Seattle Mariners. There were 3,000 Latter-day Saints sitting on the first base side in the first level. Hundreds of Mormon missionaries walked to center field. They received a five-minute standing ovation from the Mormon fans. Many Latter-day Saints had tears in their eyes as the missionaries sang the national anthems. Nearly everyone in my ward who attended the game sat together. It was a good social event and it was nice to sit with brothers and sisters to watch the game together.

2004: The Boston Red Sox held Mormon Night. Elder L. Tom Perry, who used to live in Boston, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

1981: This was the first time I ever heard of a Mormon Night. The Toronto Blue Jays had scheduled Mormon Night on their home schedule. At the time, there were at least four Mormons on the Blue Jays including Jerry Garvin, Danny Ainge, Garth Iorg and Barry Bonnell. Unfortunately, the event never happened due to a baseball strike.

When faith groups work together with professional sports teams, it's a win-win situation for both.

Ken Sisler is a convert to the LDS Church and wishes he knew his scriptures as well as he knows his sports, but he is trying.

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