Summer 2024

Minor leaguer Wes Clarke gets baptized by his teammate on the field: 'Thank you Jesus'

God is at work at every level of the sports world.

That was on full display Saturday in Nashville, when Nashville Sounds minor league baseball player Wes Clarke was baptized by his teammate, friend and fellow follower of Christ, Brewer Hicklen. Both players wore “Jesus Won” shirts as they performed the baptism on the field, with fans still the seats, after the team’s 4-1 win against the Memphis Redbirds.

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“Had the privilege of being baptized yesterday on the field by one of my good friends @brewerhicklen after our game,” Clarke wrote in a caption for an Instagram post on Sunday afternoon. “Thank you Jesus for this amazing moment in my life. I am incredibly blessed to be surrounded by so many supportive people. It was such a special night!”

 

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A post shared by Wes Clarke (@wessclarke)


Clarke, a 24-year-old native of Richmond, Virginia, played high school ball at Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg before three collegiate seasons at South Carolina. He was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 10th round in 2021, and he was called up to Nashville the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate earlier this season.

He describes himself as a “Man of God” in his X bio and a “Christ follower” on Instagram. On both social media accounts, Clarke references perhaps his favorite Bible passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the text of which he also displays as his banner photo on X. It says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Clarke followed God’s will for him to undergo the sacrament of baptism, an outward sign of the invisible reality of the new life God has given him in Christ.

 

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A post shared by Wes Clarke (@wessclarke)


Hicklen, the man who baptized Clarke and has served as a mentor in the faith for him, walloped his team-leading 16th home run of the season on Saturday in the bottom of the first inning, giving the Sounds a lead they would never relinquish.

Just a couple hours later, he had more to celebrate as he performed his friend’s baptism. The 28-year-old Hicklen enjoyed a six-game stint in the majors with the Kansas City Royals in 2022, was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies organization in August 2023, and then signed with the Brewers organization in November 2023. He believes God placed him in Nashville for such a time as this.

As a free agent following last season, he was praying about which organization to sign with.

“I just asked God, ‘Place me somewhere where You feel like I could have some influence and have some opportunity to make eternal connections with some teammates,'” Hicklen told Sports Spectrum on Monday.

He felt like the Brewers organization was that place, so he wasted no time in becoming a spiritual leader. Hicklen joined the team’s Bible study group, which he says is now up to 10-12 participants after starting the season with four or five. The group has been studying the Book of Ephesians and discussing the identity of being a Christian man.

Vinny Capra is one of the guys Hicklen has gotten to know from the group, and as they were talking over breakfast one recent morning, the topic of baptism came up. Capra was raised Catholic and was baptized as a child, but expressed to Hicklen that he wanted to get baptized again to show he had made the decision to place his identity in Christ.

Capra later mentioned his desire to Clarke, who said he too had been thinking about getting baptized. When they told Hicklen, he set out to talk with team management about what they could do. He had recently shared about his personal faith journey at the Sounds’ Faith and Family Night, which was held before a game on May 25. He asked if that event could be done after a game, but team officials said they didn’t have enough time to organize a postgame event.

So, being “a very maximize-the-moment kind of guy,” Hicklen asked if a baptism ceremony for Capra and Clarke could be held on the field after a game, when a good number of fans would still be in the stadium. They said “yes” for July 6.

“So we got a horse trough and just filled it up with water from the field,” Hicklen said, adding, “I’d say probably half the stadium stayed. It was pretty cool.”

After Hicklen shared a five-minute Gospel presentation with the crowd and explained how they got to this moment, he proceeded to baptize Clarke. Capra wasn’t able to be there because he was called up to the Brewers on July 3, but Hicklen thinks they might be able to do another baptism for him if he returns to Nashville this season.

Among Saturday’s highlights was that every Sounds player stayed to watch.

“We had a team meeting before the game and I was like, ‘Hey guys, you may be a Christian, you may not; you may support what we’re doing, you may not. But I think it’d be really cool if you guys were there to support Wes as a teammate.’ Everyone was like, ‘Yeah man, we’re all about it.’ So everybody stuck around, it was pretty cool. We even had a couple guys from the other team stick around,” Hicklen said.

The opposing catcher and home plate umpire both told Hicklen they thought it was cool that they were doing a baptism ceremony, and the Sounds’ front office enjoyed it as well.

“The assistant GM (Doug Scopel) was like, ‘Man, I’ve been doing this for 25 years and have never seen this happen before.’ He was happy with it. The GM (Adam English) texted me after and was like, ‘Man, that was awesome.’ It was pretty cool. I had several fans email me. It was cool, it was a powerful moment,” Hicklen said.

He had prayed to “make eternal connections” with teammates, and “sure enough, six months later, God delivered,” Hicklen said.

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