Summer 2024

Baltimore Orioles' Jackson Holliday makes MLB debut: 'I wouldn't be here without Jesus'

Of all the games MLB players participate in throughout their careers, one in particular always stands above the rest: their very first.

For Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles, April 10, 2024, will always hold a special significance; it’s when he made his much-anticipated MLB debut. The Orioles secured a 7-5 come-from-behind victory against the Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston while many of Jackson’s family members looked on from the stands.

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The 20-year-old started at second base and hit ninth on Wednesday, going hitless in four at-bats but driving in a run and turning a double play to close out the first inning.

“Obviously, I would have liked to have gotten a few hits, but the overall experience was pretty incredible tonight,” Holliday said after the game during his media availability. He also revealed that, at the beginning of the game on defense and before each at-bat, he drew a cross in the dirt just like he does every game.

“I wouldn’t be here without Jesus, honestly,” he said. “Just His love that He’s had on me and blessed me with the ability to play baseball and to be here today. I probably wouldn’t be anywhere without Him. … Just giving thanks to the Lord.”

Holliday had batted .321 with 93 RBIs and 29 stolen bases in 155 minor-league games, and less than two full years after being drafted, he’d proven himself ready for the big show. He was with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides when he got the call that every minor leaguer dreams of.

Holliday is the son of former MLB All-Star Matt Holliday and his wife, Leslee, who co-hosted the “Table Forty” Podcast as part of the Sports Spectrum Podcast Network.

They introduced Jackson to Christ at an early age, and throughout his rise to fame, he’s spoken often about his faith in Christ. Just two weeks ago, he and his younger brother, Ethan, appeared on the Sports Spectrum Podcast to discuss faith and baseball. Ethan is a high school junior and was recently ranked as Baseball America’s No. 1 MLB draft prospect.

“I think being able to have your faith and being able to just kind of realize that everything is a plan and God has a plan for you, I think that makes it pretty easy for me,” Jackson explained on the podcast. “I’m like, ‘OK, I’m gonna go out there, and I’m gonna compete, and I’m gonna do everything in my ability to succeed, but at the end of the day, like, if I do fail this, there is a purpose for that.’”

In a sport where failure is more common than success, and where Jackson’s been in the public eye for years, Jesus has been his rock and his true source of identity.

“We like to say that pressure is a privilege. If you have pressure on you, you’re probably doing something right,” Holliday said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in December 2022. “It’s just about being able to rely on God, and being able to pray, and being able to put it all in His hands to just take it day by day and play the game I’ve grown up loving.”

Even though in the majors the stage may be bigger, the outside noise may be louder, and the competition may be better, Holliday knows it’s still baseball. More importantly, it’s still his Heavenly Father who’s been with him at every turn.

“I always pray during the national anthem and then every time I go up to the plate,” Holliday said in his most recent podcast with Sports Spectrum. “So I think that’s something that keeps me grounded. … I’m not here without the Lord.”


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“Jesus died on the cross for our sins,” Holliday said on the podcast in 2022, “because we’re obviously not perfect and we sin a lot. And for Him to love us so much for Him to send His only Son to die for us, I’m forever grateful for that.”


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The Orioles are now 7-4 on the young season, good for second place in the American League East behind the New York Yankees. The Baltimore fanbase and front office hope the addition of Holliday will be just what the team needs to return to the playoffs for a second consecutive season, after winning 100 games last year for the first time since 1980.

Baltimore will try to complete a three-game sweep of the Red Sox (7-5) on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET.

>> Do you know Christ personally? Learn how you can commit your life to Him. <<

SS PODCAST: Jackson & Ethan Holliday on living out their faith
Jackson Holliday wins MiLB Player of the Year, helps ‘grow the Kingdom’
Top prospect Jackson Holliday thriving in minors, puts it ‘all in His hands’
SS PODCAST: Orioles No. 1 draft pick Jackson Holliday on humility, trusting God
TABLE FORTY PODCAST: Jackson Holliday, son of Matt & Leslee Holliday