Retired Chicago White Sox designated hitter Adam LaRoche broke his silence amid a media uproar on Friday over his decision to walk away from a $13 million contract because his employer sought to limit the time his son spent at his workplace.
“As fathers, we have an opportunity to help mold our kids into men and women of character, with morals and values that can’t be shaken by the world around them,” LaRoche wrote of his decision to retire. “Of one thing I am certain: we will regret NOT spending enough time with our kids, not the other way around.”
LaRoche’s teammates nearly boycotted a Wednesday spring training game after a heated discussion with team executive vice president Ken Williams. Chris Sale, the team’s ace, reportedly hurled expletives during a loud conversation with Williams. He subsequently accused Williams of lying to the team. LaRoche’s 14-year-old son Drake, like his dad, remained a familiar and popular figure around the team’s clubhouse until Williams intervened.
LaRoche says when he signed with the White Sox, the team understood and supported his desire to bring his teenage son along with him to the ballpark. But, he says, the team’s about-face on that question resulted in him questioning the continuance of his career:
White Sox VP Ken Williams recently advised me to significantly scale back the time that my son spent in the clubhouse. Later, I was told not to bring him to the ballpark at all. Obviously, I expressed my displeasure toward this decision to alter the agreement we had reached before I signed with the White Sox. Upon doing so, I had to make a decision. Do I choose my teammates and my career? Or do I choose my family? The decision was easy, but in no way was it a reflection of how I feel about my teammates, manager, general manager or the club’s owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
Conspicuously, he left the team’s executive vice president off that list.
The veteran player noted the importance of family in the tradition’s of baseball in his statement. Specifically, he recalled accompanying his dad when he coached the game and playing alongside his brothers in various leagues. He depicted bringing his son to the ballpark as in keeping with baseball as a traditional game passed on from fathers to sons.
LaRoche batted .207 last season with just 12 home runs in the designated hitter slot. At 36, and in his contract year, his career appeared at a crossroads: either produce this season and cash-in on another contract or continue to struggle and retire. But the popular veteran player admitted in his message on social media that 2016 likely played as the last season of his career if he hadn’t opted to retire.
“Baseball has taught me countless life lessons,” LaRoche noted. “I’ve learned how to face challenges, how to overcome failure, how to maintain humility, and most importantly, to trust that the Lord is in control and that I was put here to do more than play the game of baseball. We are called to live life with an unwavering love for God and love for each other. These are lessons I try to teach my kids every day.”