Adam LaRoche’s last act as a major league baseball player might turn out to be a walk. The sometimes power-hitting first baseman has already accumulated 649 of those over a 12-year major league career. This last one won’t show up in any statistics sheet. It may, however, endure as one man’s statement about having his priorities in order. (Link to Washington Post story)
Now, I’m not quite ready to nominate Adam, who spent four seasons with my Washington Nationals, for sainthood. There’s already rumors that his retirement earlier this week from the Chicago White Sox may be a short one because he could be traded to a team with more kid-friendly management. Adam, you see, has habitually had his 14-year old son at his side in the locker room, at the games, on the team bus… which, to those of you who think that schools outside the home are the only way a kid can be educated, might not qualify as a very bright decision on the part of the LaRoche family.
And I’m not sure Adam is telling us the entire reason for his retirement. He’s said that it’s because the Sox went back on their agreement to let his boy hang with Dad behind the scenes with the team, as his other teams have allowed. Baseball, like any professional sport, takes a toll on a man’s body. Keen observers of the sport know it’s taken a toll on Adam, and his performance last year hinted that maybe his best days as a player were already behind him.
On the other hand, LaRoche is still good enough to be on a major league roster. He has a reputation as a great teammate and a clubhouse leader wherever he’s been. And, as I’ve recently discovered in the batting cages with my own boy, it is thrilling to crank a fastball deep into the outfield. It must be hard for a baseball guy to walk away from the rush of doing that while 30,000 fans are watching. And, LaRoche had 13 million financial reasons this year to stay with his team.
Time will tell if LaRoche’s last walk really is the statement it appears to be. Meanwhile it’s a good story, and I’ve provided a link in case you want to read what he and his supportive teammates have to say about it. As a parent, the story had me asking myself some hard questions.