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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended October 27, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 27Oct00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

New York Missionaries Talk Baseball in 'Fearless' Contacting

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK -- Two LDS missionaries told the New York Times about a challenge many missionaries face -- trying to make contacts during a major sporting event. The missionaries tried to make the best of the difficulty, however, talking about baseball when making street contacts.

The difficulty is nothing new, with missionaries facing the same problem in many countries in the world during events like baseball's World Series, the NBA's championships and soccer's World Cup. Investigators often want to see the game and won't schedule appointments for that time. Tracting is just a difficult, "We get a lot of people telling us, 'Go away. We're watching the game,' " says one of the missionaries, Elder Tyler McKell, from Valencia, California. Over the years more than a few missionaries have given up in frustration, some even deciding to "join them" and watch the game.

While Elder McKell and his companion, Elder Barrett Bonella of Salt Lake City, didn't have a solution for what to do during the games, they were able to use the World Series to their advantage. McKell and Bonella talk baseball in their street contacting.

In the New York, New York South Mission, street-contacting is known as "fearless" because of the courage it takes to talk to people cold. Elders McKell and Bonella's introduction takes advantage of the fact that New Yorkers have their loyalties split between the Yankees and Mets in what is known here as a "Subway Series." Their approach goes like this:

"Buenos díias, señora, Do you like the Yankees or the Mets?"

The surprise of having missionaries ask about baseball is often all they need to get a conversation going, one they can eventually turn to religion.

Along the way, McKell and Bonella have made some observations about the baseball preferences of the people in their area. About two-thirds of the residents of Bushwick, the section of Brooklyn where McKell and Bonella work, are Yankees fans. "Pretty much, the Yankees fans say they like the tradition and history of the team," Elder Bonella says. "And when people said they liked the Mets, it was because they were voting for the underdog."

Tradition overcame the underdog last night, as the Yankees beat the Mets, winning the series 4 games to 1.


Using Baseball Talk as an Opening Verse
New York Times 26Oct00 N1
By Alan Feuer


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