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Orioles bond over faith, Bible study, beliefs bigger than baseball: 'We're Christians first'

Orioles bond over faith, Bible study, beliefs bigger than baseball: 'We're Christians first'
Orioles bond over faith, Bible study, beliefs bigger than baseball: 'We're Christians first' 03:00

BALTIMORE -- The rise of the Orioles brought renewed excitement to Baltimore this year.

It was a season fans will remember for years to come. 

But it was the team's bond that sparked a 101-win season and an American League East title.

That bond goes beyond baseball.

The seasons are long journeys - 162 regular-season games over six months.

It's a test of mind, body and spirit.

The 2023 Orioles did more than survive, they thrived

Several players shared with WJZ's Mark Viviano what they describe as the most important part of that journey.

Winning brings fans to the ballpark and brings players closer together, united in the joy of hard work gone well.

From 22-year-old Gunnar Henderson, the youngest player on the team, to 36-year-old Kyle Gibson, players came together in faith and in Bible studies.

"We do Bible studies once a week and have chapel on Sundays," Henderson said. "It's really cool to spend time and be in fellowship with those guys."

"Our faith gives us something to have a little unity over, gives us something to lean on whenever you're going through hard times," Gibson said.

In pro sports, religious beliefs aren't promoted as part of the public discussion

But to really know the Orioles, several players are eager to share who they are and how they bond.

"Kyle Gibson is a big influence. Adley Rutschman is a big influence," Orioles pitcher Tyler Wells. "Austin Hays is a big influence. You have guys who aren't afraid to talk about it."

"A lot of guys prioritize that," pitcher Danny Coulombe said. "Obviously for me, and most the guys, it is the most important thing in our life, even more than baseball. We're Christians first and baseball players second."

Gibson and his wife Elizabeth have long been committed to helping others in every community where they have lived, and charity work in their first season in Baltimore was a priority. Gibson is the Orioles Roberto Clemente Award nominee for his work in the community.

He said one doesn't have to be a ballplayer or a believer to be charitable.

"For me, it's just a good reminder that I think there's a lot expected of us because of where we've been," Gibson said. "And for me, I believe that love started in the Bible and Jesus is love, and for me, I'm trying to love people no matter who they are."

"Be able to have guys you can lean on in that sense and be able to both have that love of Christ and be able just to coach each other and help each other along the way," Henderson said. "It's been really cool to have those guys that I can lean on, especially being in my first year."

No matter the religious faith they may follow, at any and all levels of belief, what brings a team together from various backgrounds is, as they say,  "bigger than baseball."

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