Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Red Sox pitch: Elder Perry hurls a strike

Team honors Church leader during pre-game ceremonies
Published: Saturday, May 15, 2004

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BOSTON, Mass. — For Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve, the biggest concern in throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before a Boston Red Sox baseball game was that he throw it the right direction.

Photo by Brian Palmer
Elder L. Tom Perry fires the ceremonial first pitch prior to a Red Sox game.

He even enlisted the prayers of the missionaries he met with prior to the game that he could do so, he said during a Church News telephone interview.

He threw the baseball not only in the right direction, he said, but he also threw it over the plate. That set the stage for the game where the Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 9-1 on Saturday afternoon, May 8.

"It was a wonderful, heartwarming experience to walk out in that historic ballpark," Elder Perry said of his first appearance on the field at Fenway Park. "After we'd lived so many years (in Boston) I have so many fond memories. It was something to be there throwing the first pitch."

Following the singing of the national anthem by a youth chorus from the Cambridge Massachusetts Stake on LDS Day, the stadium announcer read a tribute to Elder Perry. He concluded with, "Please welcome 82-years young Red Sox fan who brought over 2,000 of his friends and family to today's game, Elder L. Tom Perry."

With the help of Brian Palmer, Church director of public affairs for the Boston area, and Church member Michael Schetzel, who is the Red Sox director of ticket services and information, LDS Day was planned and about 2,000 tickets were sold to members of the Church.

As Elder Perry was being given instructions about what was going to happen, Brother Palmer reported hearing the following exchange between Elder Perry and the woman from the Red Sox assisting him:

"As soon as the youth choir is finished we will be walking out to the mound where. . . ."

"Can we run out to the mound?"

"We can do whatever you would like to do."

"I want to run out to the mound."

"You set the pace and I will follow."

Brother Palmer said, "And indeed, with his typical energetic enthusiasm for everything he does, Elder Perry led the way as they ran out to the mound."

After his pitching debut, Elder Perry said that he had trouble getting back to his seat because of all the well-wishers with whom he shook hands. Some of them, he added, were acquaintances he met outside the Church during his time living and working in Boston from 1966 until his call to be a General Authority in 1972.

And, he noted cheerfully, it was a thrill that seven of his grandchildren attended the game along with two of his children.

"It was one of those magic-moment experiences that you don't think you'll ever have."

He said that prior to moving to Boston, he lived in New York where he was a Yankee fan, but has been a Red Sox fan since moving to their city.

After having his name announced and appear on a stadium message board during his part in the pre-game, he said, he got to enjoy a great Red Sox victory that included a complete game by pitcher Curt Schilling and an inside-the-park home run by shortstop Pokey Reese.

The invitation to throw out the first pitch came through the Church Public Affairs Department, he said, and he was glad it could be worked into his schedule. "You can't turn down such an assignment," he commented.

Along with the game and his missionary meeting, he also spoke at a fireside attended by "800 great youth" Friday night, he said. The fireside was held in a meetinghouse that he remembered helping build while serving in a bishopric there.

E-mail to: ghill@desnews.com