This story appears in the special 2018 MLB Faith Events issue of Sports Spectrum Magazine, which is being distributed at numerous ballparks this summer, including Pittsburgh’s PNC Park on July 27. To receive the regular quarterly magazine, subscribe here.
Two years into his tenure as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Clint Hurdle consulted with the front office about having a faith event after a game.
“Clint went to the front office and boldly stated what a success it was in other stadiums,” said one of Hurdle’s coaches, Dave Jauss, who along with his wife, Billie, now help plan Faith Night — when players, wives and coaches share testimonies with fans.
“Clint is a strong man and a strong man of faith,” Billie says. “With those two qualities and being the manager, the front office was happy to allow Faith Night at PNC Park.”
The Pirates’ first Faith Night took place in the summer of 2013. Team chaplain Brad Henderson largely did the legwork of getting the word out and organizing the evening, and between 5,000 and 6,000 people stayed after the game — more than anyone anticipated. The following year, more promotion was done and the crowd grew.
It’s now such a staple on the Pirates calendar that youth groups send buses full of kids to the games, and the fans are willing to stay well into the night — even the wee hours of the following morning.
“In 2016, we had about 16 to 17,000 people stay after a 7 o’clock p.m. game that had a rain delay,” Billie said. “We didn’t get onto the field until midnight.”
Billie, an author and public speaker, and Beth Henderson, the chaplain’s wife, have led the way for wives of players and coaches to also share their stories. Brad Henderson noticed during the first Faith Night a significant delay from the time the game ended to when the players were able to make their way back out to the field, so he thought to fill that gap with the wives’ stories.
The Pirates helped the women produce a video presentation the first year, and the second year Billie interviewed a few wives in front of the fans. Topics include their struggles as wives in baseball, raising kids with dads often on the road, and long-distance dating. Billie says the feedback on wives sharing has been powerful, as they’re usually on the back burner and fans don’t hear about life from their perspective.
In 2017, fans heard from utility player Sean Rodriguez and his wife, Giselle. Earlier in the year, they were involved in a serious car accident with two of their children, but “we’re all alive, we’re still breathing and it’s obviously through His grace.”
In 2018, Faith Night (July 27) has been highly promoted by the Pirates and Christian organizations throughout the city. Once again, it will be after a night game. All parties involved are praying for no more rain delays.
“The date and the time of the game doesn’t matter when it’s about God,” Dave says. “It would be nice to have a little better weather situation but it doesn’t matter when we’re impacting people. And that night does impact the city and a lot of people, including ourselves.”
The players, wives and coaches who speak may vary each year, but one remains consistent. Hurdle shares his powerful testimony, and also leaves the fans with a dynamic message. With his Bible in hand, the manager preaches.
— Pittsburgh’s Sean Rodriguez is in collision with God’s will
— Gateway to Faith in St. Louis
— A Cardinal’s Perch to Preach – St. Louis Cardinals’ Christian Day at the Ballpark Event
— Andrew McCutchen shares his story of sports and faith
— Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle signs 4-year extension