'No water hoses allowed': Gibson greets ex-club with new rule

May 20th, 2024

ST. LOUIS -- When the Orioles arrived at Busch Stadium on Monday afternoon, a freshly laminated sign was hanging in the visitors’ third-base dugout.


That’s a problem for the O’s, who celebrate home runs by drinking water out of the four-hose hydration station purchased earlier this season by catcher James McCann.

The person who put up the sign (appropriately typed in orange font) knew of this fact, because he was once a water-themed celebration participant himself. It was right-hander -- a member of the 2023 American League East champion Orioles who is now with the Cardinals -- and he was playing a joke on his former teammates.

Gibson no longer wants to see O’s players bring out the waterworks, especially not against the Cards the next three days.

“Hopefully, it stays dry this week,” Gibson deadpanned.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde feels a little differently.

“I hope we break the rule like six times today,” Hyde said after seeing Gibson’s sign.

Gibson, 36, spent only one season in Baltimore -- the 11th of his 12 in MLB -- but it was a memorable year for him. He led the Orioles’ staff with 192 innings, notched a career-high 15 wins and helped the team go an AL-best 101-61.

Not only was Gibson a workhorse on the mound, but he was a valuable mentor in a clubhouse filled with young players. He got in on the child-like fun as well, though, often spitting water from the dugout during the “sprinkler” celebration -- activated whenever a player hits a double or triple -- or holding last year’s homer hose for a teammate to drink water out of.

“Watching young players be comfortable and really come into who they are on the field, and off the field, is something that I’ll remember from that team,” Gibson said. “Just being able to watch -- not watch them grow up, because then I kind of play into this grandfather-, father-figure role that they had me in. Watching them have that success for the first sustained time at that level was something that was pretty special.”

Last November, Gibson signed a one-year, $13 million deal with St. Louis, giving the University of Missouri alum an opportunity to return to the city where he got married and has family. He still keeps in contact with former Orioles teammates, many of whom he chatted with during batting practice prior to Monday’s series opener at Busch Stadium.

Gibson received quite a few texts from Baltimore players when they were boarding their flight to St. Louis on Sunday evening. He said he regularly texts with McCann every couple of weeks and has conversations with “too many to name.”

“He was an innings-eater for us. He kept us in almost every single game. And he pitched well,” Hyde said of Gibson. “And the four days he wasn’t pitching, top-five best teammate I’ve ever been around, of what he was like in the dugout, in the clubhouse, as a leader.”

Having played for five teams in his big league career, Gibson is no stranger to pitching against former teammates. He’s eager for the opportunity to do so on Wednesday afternoon (1:15 p.m. ET/12:15 CT), when he’ll start for the Cardinals and go up against many Orioles players who last year he shared a clubhouse with during a season he called “something I’ll remember for a long time.”

Gibson knows it will be no easy task to face the big bats throughout the order for Baltimore, which entered Monday at 29-15 and had an MLB-high-tying 68 home runs.

“These players are obviously really good,” Gibson said. “You guys get a front-row seat every day, and the fans are getting a front-row seat, to a really good team. Not too surprised by how they’re playing.”