Minor league Saints hosting night for atheists

You won't believe why St. Paul's minor league team is changing its name for a night next month.

For one day next month, the St. Paul Saints minor league baseball team will become the Aints.

The Saints, known for off-the-wall promotions in the team's 20-year history, will have a theme night on Aug. 10 titled "A Night of Unbelievable Fun," sponsored by the Minnesota Atheists. While the team's staff generates many of the Saints' promotions and giveaways, several ideas come from outside sponsors.

This promotion fell into the second category, said Saints general manger Derek Sharrer.

"I think our message here and our brand of entertainment has always been one that's been inclusive," Sharrer said. "When we were approached by the Minnesota Atheists, we felt like it was within our nature to be inclusive and certainly work with them to provide them the opportunity to provide their message in the same way that we have worked with hundreds and hundreds of faith-based groups over our 20 years here in St. Paul."

Sharrer said some of the details of that night are still being worked out but noted that the team will indeed be called the Aints for one day. According to the Minnesota Atheists' website, the team will wear jerseys with the "Aints" moniker on the front – the Mr. Paul Aints -- and those jerseys will later be auctioned off for charity after the game. Also, the "S" on all Saints banners and signs around the stadium will be crossed off. Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.

Part of the irony of the night, of course, is the Saints' team name. But Sharrer is quick to point out that the team was not given that name for religious purposes.

"I think the thing that we would emphasize is the team name itself is just that -- it's a team name," Sharrer said. "We didn't name the team the Saints to make any sort of religious statement. Certainly, that was part of what attracted the Minnesota Atheists, along with what they know about the Saints and the ability to promote a message."

The bottom line, Sharrer said, is that the promotion is not intended to alienate anyone. It's all about having a good time at the ballpark.

"The one thing I can assure you is that it will be all in good fun," Sharrer said. "This isn't about mocking or ridiculing any one belief. This is about presenting the beliefs of this group of folks in a way that can be fun and entertaining."

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