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God Bless Him: The Power of Luis Gil’s Neck Ink

If you haven’t yet heard of the Yankees starting pitcher Luis Gil (pronounced “heel”), you probably will shortly. Gil has been at the heart of the Yankees’ excellent 2024 season thus far, sporting a 9-2 record with a 2.77 ERA. Gil is expected to start the second game of the “subway series” on Wednesday against the Mets. He’ll probably get strong consideration for the AL All-Star team with those kinds of numbers. Although Gil got lit up in his last start against the Orioles, he’s been pretty great in his other starts.

Like many ballplayers today, Gil sports a lot of tattoos, but one in particular stands out. A tat on his neck, of all places, reads “GOD BLESS ME.”

Gil’s route to the majors has had some bumps. He’s from the Dominican Republic, and has said he became “deeply religious” around the time he was 15 or 16 years old. This was about the time he was signed by the Minnesota Twins — with a cannon for an arm, he felt he was destined to pitch in the bigs, and he considered his ability to throw a baseball a great gift. He got a good number of tattoos — some of them religious — while in the Twins organization. Fate would deal him another hand when he would have to undergo shoulder surgery at age 19, and was then traded from the Twins to the Yankees in 2021. Finally, in August of 2021, he made his major league debut with the Yankees. His faith had paid off. He had arrived.

Gil would pitch in six games in 2021, compiling a 1-1 record with a 3.06 ERA. Following that early campaign, in the winter of 2021, Gil got the neck tattoo with the words “GOD BLESS ME.”

Gil says his faith is a “good way to anchor myself in something that could help me in my career and to understand the opportunities that I would have, something that could help me in the journey.” He prays when he wakes up and before he goes to sleep. Gil looked forward to building on his 2021 season with a strong 2022. Unfortunately, he would pitch only one game that season, tossing four innings with a 9.00 ERA; an injury ended his season and he underwent Tommy John surgery. It would cost him his 2022 season and most of 2023. He did not pitch in the majors last year.

Through it all, he retained his faith in God and his belief that he could regain the form he showed during his 2021 season — and the belief that his “GOD BLESS ME” tattoo would help him attain new heights.

His faith was tested, but it never wavered. He returned to the major leagues this May, starting six games that month, and pitching to an almost ungodly sub-2.00 ERA. While his June hasn’t been as spectacular, he’s still been pretty lights out. He kept his ERA right around 2.00 (2.03 to be exact, before a bad outing against the Orioles ballooned it to the 2.77 it stands at now). His faith, it seems, has rewarded him. He may not owe it all to the “GOD BLESS ME” ink he got after that 2021 season, but it surely hasn’t hurt.

I may not be a Yankee fan … but I’m rooting for Luis Gil (except this Wednesday, when he faces the Mets, of course).

According to a recent article in The Athletic, Gil said “It’s just a message for God to protect me. It’s a reminder in asking to be protected. I’ve been put in really good situations. … Ever since I could remember, I could see things shaping around me.”

God has certainly blessed him.

On a personal note, I’m not a particularly religious man, but I do believe in putting one’s faith in a Higher Power. I quit drinking in May of 2006, and shortly thereafter I got my one and only tattoo — an ankh (an ancient symbol with many meanings, including rebirth). You can sorta see the bottom of it in this photo, just above my temporary Brannock device ink from when Paul threw out the first pitch at a Syracuse minor league game in 2018.

Eighteen-plus years later and I’ve never had another drink. I can’t attribute is solely to the ankh tat, but it’s been a constant reminder of the road I’ve traveled. And while I certainly don’t want to equate my tattoo to Gil’s — far from it — I can certainly empathize with the feeling of protection he feels it brings.

Readers: do any of you have tattoos or any other type of talisman? Do you attribute any special feelings to them? I’d love to hear your stories or thoughts on this.


Big thanks to Paul for pointing me to the Gil tattoo article!

Comments (17)

    Admittedly the neck placement is unusual, but a pro athlete in 2024 having a Christian tattoo and attributing their success to faith in God doesn’t seem particularly noteworthy to me. Just wait for the NBA draft tomorrow when it is guaranteed that most or all of the American draftees will mention it first in their interviews.

    That being said, as long as the Yankees maintain their ridiculous anti-individuality rules as regards hair and facial hair, I am in favor of their players getting as many tattoos in the head and neck area as possible.

    I remembered people talking about a Steinbrenner rule that sleeves must be worn to conceal tattoos but was that just for Photo Day or was that really an expectation for players during games? While the facial hair rules and hair rules still apply, there have definitely been plenty of players with ink, particularly Marcus Stroman whose ink even extends to the back of his head!

    For Photo Day pictures taken during spring training the Yankees do make their players wear long sleeves and it’s made me wonder if that’s a vestige of George Steinbrenner policy….

    I definitely think the allowance of visible neck tattoos and such is an example of the post-George Yankees keeping the policy, but not wanting to really fight any battles over it.

    It’s not great optics to force a player to cover a religious tattoo, so they’re just not gonna bother enforcing that part.

    It’s the same reason that I think the Yankees’ hair/beard policy will finally fall whenever a player comes along who has a beard/long hair for religious reasons. There’s just no way that they’re willing to fight that battle. Hal Steinbrenner is a lot of things, but one thing he isn’t is myopic about minutiae like George was.

    I’ve got *almost* two full sleeves. None of them are particularly Uni-notable, but it’s the open space that would be of the most interest. I’m saving a spot for the Lombardi trophy when the Bills win it….and I REALLY hope that I don’t die with blank skin on that spot.

    I have one tattoo and it is Uni-notable in a way. I was looking for a way to memorialize my father who had passed and nothing ever felt right. Then one day Paul posted a link: link regarding stationary found on a certain train line back in the day. There’s a connection to trains and my father and this train with wings just fit the bill. As soon as I saw it I knew it was what I would get tattooed on my arm. It took a few years to work up the courage to get the tat as I’m not a fan of needles but I’m glad I did it. I never told Paul about the connection though!

    I’m perfectly fine with people having a relationship with their chosen deity. Whatever completes you, whatever makes you happy. That outlook can apply to cool tolerance of a lot of different lifestyle and other choices etc. If you aren’t hurting anyone else, I’m dandy with it. It’s when one this person’s pursuit stomps all over that person’s pursuit that I have a problem. Feels like these things will be coming to a head soon.

    I can’t think of anything I believe in strongly enough to etch permanently onto my skin. I can’t even commit to bumper stickers. I do have some wicked scars with awesome stories, though.

    I had a major health scare back in 2007 – 24 hours to live type situation. I have since recovered (obviously lol). I have always wanted a tattoo, and wanted it to be meaningful. Around 2010, I did some research on West African symbols, called Adinkra (link). The most popular is probably the Gye Nyame (meaning Except God. A symbol expressing the omnipotence of God. Probably the most popular Adinkra symbol in Ghana. It is featured on Ghana’s largest-denomination banknote, the 200 cedi note.)

    I chose to get the Wawa Aba (which denotes the seed of the wawa tree. A symbol of hardiness, toughness, and perseverance.) I finally got the tattoo in 2020.


    Thanks for sharing Marcus! Glad you recovered (fully I hope) and that’s a great story.

    Nice looking ink too!

    Yup, thanks to the docs and modern medicine, I’m alive and well!
    I’m contemplating getting more ink, but I have no clue what I want. So it’ll be another 10 years before I actually get it, HAHA!

    “I’m contemplating getting more ink, but I have no clue what I want.”

    Same! I’m also petrified of needles (damn near passed out during my one inking) so I’m not in a huge rush, but I always wanted one in the same spot on my left upper arm.

    As a Deadhead, I was thinking of going with a Stealie (similar to this: link)

    Either that or a yin yang.

    But … not in any rush either

    I thought the pain would be overwhelming, but it was surprisingly painless – annoying though. I think it’s because I picked a “good spot”. Thankfully, the needles don’t bother me at all – I was watching the whole time. This leads me to believe the next tattoo will be on the other arm, in the exact same place!

    Phil congrats on the job you have done here. Uni Watch trajectory is high. Your sobriety is a testament to you and your strength. The Luis Gil story already has a great ending even if his MLB career ended. To echo others here, lets try to take care of each other and may we all be blessed.

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