CHICAGO— You can call Adam LaRoche the most senseless player in Major League Baseball— or the most thoughtful.
The Chicago White Sox first baseman abruptly announced his retirement this week after he was told by the team to stop bringing his 14-year-old son to the clubhouse.
His son Drake was so much of a fixture at the Sox ballpark, he had his own uniform and locker right near dad— however, the teen apparently wore out his welcome.
“It was 100 percent of the time, every day,” described Sox VP Kenny Williams, of how often Drake was there.
“So yea I asked [Adam] initially to just dial it back. Even 50 percent is probably too much.”
When you consider what’s at stake—a $13 million salary which LaRoche is walking away from— a heated debate was inevitable.
Despite the criticism, one report suggests LaRoche’s teammates had his back, threatening to boycott a spring training game Wednesday against the Brewers in response to the teen’s clubhouse ban.
The apparent hypocrisy has left many like David Hollander, Professor of Sports Management at NYU’s School of Professional Studies, beside himself, considering how baseball bills itself as being a family game.
“The fact that a man would walk away from $13 million because at the end of his life he doesn’t want to say he didn’t spend enough time with his kids – that’s a role model,” he said, “that’s better for the business of baseball.“
LaRoche’s bold move is getting the attention of other franchises like Kyle Long of the Chicago Bears.
“I’d like to think there’s a glorious world where baseball players who work hard can spend time with their families instead of another world where all these guys are thinking about their endorsement deals, their contract renegotiation,” Hollander said. “To me the first picture is much more marketable and better in the long run.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the White Sox organization has yet to process LaRoche's paperwork, which hints there may be talk happening behind the scenes, persuading him to change his mind.
The story itself has been trending all day, launching the hashtag #FamilyFirst.