Elder Rasband Throws Ceremonial First Pitch at Angels Game
Contributed By Karen A. Kimball, Church News contributor
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Los Angeles Angels game on July 27. The Angels were playing the Seattle Mariners and won the game 4 to 3. This was the third win in a row for the Angels. Elder Rasband and some of his family attended the game as part of the 21st annual “Mormon Night with the Angels.” An estimated 2,200 members of the Church attended the event, representing the 15 stakes in the Orange County area.
Elder Rasband, in an Angels jersey with his name on the back, gathered with his family beneath the “Angels Wall of Fame” sign for a photo before heading onto the field. Three generations of Rasbands were represented. Elder Rasband was accompanied on the field by his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, and Elder Ruben Acosta, an Area Seventy, and his wife, Sister Yvonne Acosta. Elder Rasband’s grandson Camden Norton joined him as his “official catcher” during his warm-up pitches.
Camden had been practicing the first pitch with his grandfather for over a month and helped warm him up on the side of the field. When asked if his grandpa could make the pitch the entire 60’6” from the mound, Camden answered with a resounding “yes.” Elder Rasband’s pitch did clear home plate, low and wide. Justin Anderson, a relief pitcher for the Angels, signed the ball Elder Rasband used for the first pitch.
Elder Rasband warms up with his grandson Camden Norton before throwing out the first pitch at “Mormon Night with the Angels” at Angel Stadium. Photo by Riz Espinili.
Five Mormon youth—Joshua Salgado, Benson Wu, Emma Grace Liloa Kailiponi, Abbey Dayton, and Sophie Cadden—were recognized during the opening first pitch ceremony for their outstanding achievements at school and in their communities.
Joshua Salgado, an Angels fan, didn’t believe his bishop when he found out he was chosen to participate. “It’s an amazing opportunity,” Joshua said. He never dreamed he would get to represent the Church at an Angels game.
Abbey hoped that “people can see that I love the gospel and the Savior.” She realized there were many other outstanding Church youth she represented.
Jim Panetta, director of ticket sales for the Angels, joined the participants on the field for the pregame activities. “It’s a great night for us every year, and we love hosting ‘Mormon Night with the Angels,’” Panetta said.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband waves to the crowd during the 21st Annual “Mormon Night with the Angels” held on July 27. Photo by Riz Espinili.
Ken Hutton, a member of the Anaheim Stake who has worked for the Angels for 40 years, was given the job to escort Elder Rasband through the stadium during the third inning to greet members. Hutton, who has been to all 21 Mormon Night with the Angels games, was “excited” for the new assignment.
Other Primary-age youth participated during the evening: Ben Walker as the “play ball” announcer, Henry Berrett as “bat boy,” and John King had the chance to “steal third base.” John made the dash from the outfield down the third base line and picked up and “stole third base,” carrying it back to the outfield in less than 20 seconds. Ben Walker and his family are Angels season ticket holders. He was surprised at the chance to be the “play ball” announcer. “It feels like I’m sharing the gospel to the world,” he said. Ben had rehearsed his words several times with his father before the game. As the Angels team members ran out onto the field, Ben officially announced “play ball” and another “Mormon Night with the Angels” began.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband stands with his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, and his grandson Camden Norton during the 21st Annual “Mormon Night with the Angels” held on July 27. Photo by Riz Espinili.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Elder Ruben Acosta, an Area Seventy. Photo by Riz Espinili.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband and his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, at the 21st Annual “Mormon Night with the Angels” held on July 27. Photo by Riz Espinili.