More than 900 church members cheered from the bleachers as an apostle and his wife stepped to the mound and waved to the crowd on “Latter-day Saint Night at Camden Yards” prior to the Baltimore Orioles-Tampa Bay Rays game Monday.

Sporting a white Orioles jersey, the ceremonial first pitch was delivered down the middle for a strike by right-hander Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Ruth L. Renlund.

The Orioles won the game, 5-1.

The Orioles have hosted similar events sponsored by the church’s Baltimore Maryland Stake since 2007. This is the first time an apostle has thrown the first pitch at Camden Yards. Other apostles and church leaders have been invited to throw out the first pitch at other Major League Baseball games many times over the years.

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The visit to Baltimore was a homecoming for the Renlunds, who lived in the city from 1980-86 while Elder Renlund completed an internal medical residency and a cardiology fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Sister Renlund earned a juris doctorate from the University of Maryland.

Elder Dale G. Renlund throws out the ceremonial first before a Baltimore Orioles game.
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throws out the ceremonial first at “Latter-day Saint Night at Camden Yards” before the Baltimore Orioles play Tampa Bay Monday, July 25, 2022. | Hillary Martell Photography

During the final three years of their time in Baltimore, Elder Renlund also served as bishop of a congregation that encompassed much of the city.

Now 40 years later, Elder Renlund considers their years in the city as transformative for their family.

“I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that we don’t think about our experience in Baltimore.” — Elder Dale G. Renlund

“It was this concentrated experience that changed us forever and changed the course of our lives,” Elder Renlund said. “I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that we don’t think about our experience in Baltimore.”

The Renlunds expressed appreciation for the friendship of neighbors, colleagues and church members, whose support was particularly felt during the years when the family was juggling the demands of caring for their young daughter, Ashley, with church responsibilities, the duties of a medical residency and fellowship, and attending law school. 

“We just met great people, wherever we went,” Sister Renlund said. “They helped us, we helped them — we learned a lot from everyone that we had an opportunity to interact with. And our lives are richer because of that.” 

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As part of his residency in cardiology, Elder Renlund spent two weeks in 1981 working alongside Dr. Gary Gerstenblith in the Johns Hopkins Medicine Coronary Care Unit. Shortly after this medical rotation, the family was shocked when Sister Renlund was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As Elder Renlund sat in the recovery room, anxiously awaiting the results of Sister Renlund’s emergency surgery, uncertain of how he would balance his demanding clinical rotations with caring for his wife, Gerstenblith walked in.

“He just listened — he was there when the surgeon came out and told me what the diagnosis was, and I felt shattered,” Elder Renlund said.

Elder Dale G. Renlund prepares to throw out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game.
Elder Dale G. Renlund prepares to throw out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game. | Hillary Martell Photography

Gerstenblith, who Elder Renlund described as a true ministering brother, later informed him that he had made arrangements so Elder Renlund could take care of his family. Elder Renlund remembers being told: “‘You don’t have to do your rotations this month. I’ve used my research funding to buy you for a month, and you don’t need to come to the lab until your family situation is taken care of.’” 

“How do you not love someone like that?” Elder Renlund said.

Following a second surgery, in which it was determined that there had been no recurrence of Sister Renlund’s cancer, Elder Renlund discovered that an elderly patient of another faith in the cardiology outpatient clinic with challenges of her own had prayed for Sister Renlund by name three times a day.

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Sister Renlund also remembers church members offering to give her a ride through the city to help her become oriented and feel more confident in navigating the area.

“That’s what we found (in Baltimore),” Elder Renlund said. “Good people and great faith. Some joined the church and some didn’t — it doesn’t matter. The Lord loves them and cares for them.”

Maryland is home to more than 40,000 Latter-day Saints who worship in 80 congregations across the state, according the church’s newsroom.

Andy Ross is a senior lecturer at Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches professional writing and communication courses in the Center for Leadership Education.

Elder Dale G. Renlund raises his arms after throwing out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game.
Elder Dale G. Renlund raises his arms after throwing out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game. | Hillary Martell Photography
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