Adam LaRoche, the White Sox player who walked away from a $13 million contract because the team wanted to limit his son’s time in the clubhouse, now talks about his abrupt decision to quit baseball.
Earlier this year LaRoche and Sox management came at loggerheads over the ubiquitous presence in the White Sox clubhouse of Adam’s son, Drake LaRoche. At some point executive vice president Kenny Williams told LaRoche to leave the boy home instead of bringing him to work. But the player decided his son was more important than the game and he walked away from the league.
The decision caused some team members to rumble about organizing a boycott of games in support of the popular player. Still other players, though, are rumored to have complained about the boy’s presence in the clubhouse.
Whatever was really going on, LaRoche had only a few things to say about the situation. For instance, on March 18 he said he would never regret his decision to put his son over baseball.
“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 said. “Of one thing I am certain: we will regret NOT spending enough time with our kids, not the other way around.”
But until now the retired player has not spoken out at length on the matter. Now he is opening up in a new interview with ESPN.
The player who now seems more famous for quitting the game than playing it, had a message for everyone. He “gets it.”
“I never took it for granted,” LaRoche said. “One, I get to play a game. Two, I get paid an absurd amount of money to play a game. Three, I can have my son with me while I’m doing it. I was pinching myself all the time, wondering, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’ And I always knew it could get shut down at any point. You could have a manager who just flat doesn’t like it. You can have players complain — Hey, we’re tired of having a kid around. There’s a chance we could have other guys see Drake and think, ‘I’ll bring my kid too.’ Obviously we can’t turn this into a day care. I get it.”
But one thing he wants all of us to get is that he doesn’t regret his decision one iota. He also seemed a bit upset that even after telling managers “every year” that if someone has a problem with his son in the clubhouse it was something he wanted to know about, he was sort of blindsided by the whole situation.
LaRoche also defended his years of bringing his son to the clubhouse. He said it was the perfect place to teach his son about life.
“You can say, ‘That’s no place for a kid to be,'” LaRoche told ESPN. “The way I see it, he’s going to be around that regardless, unless you home-school and raise them in a bubble. I can’t think of a better place for him to be when he gets a taste of that than with me.”
Speaking of education, the former player has some rather unorthodox ideas about that, too. “I’m not big on school,” he said.
“Obviously, you have to go to school,” LaRoche explained. “It’s not like it was 100 years ago — even though I wish it was — when you literally followed your dad around. I’m from the Midwest, so typically it was out farming or ranching. If you’re old enough to walk, you’re going to be out working. I think school is a great way to get knowledge, but I don’t know how much wisdom you get. That’s what you pick up in real life.”
But LaRoche also notes that while his son now attends school “electronically,” next year he’ll start high school and will be attending like most others do, in person, and all day.
“I knew this was probably our last opportunity to share time together at the field and do what we’ve always done,” LaRoche said pointing out that quitting has allowed him this last summer with his son.
But, for those who really know LaRoche, quitting like he did may not be very surprising. He said baseball was never the beginning and end of his life.
“A lot of times I’ve wanted to say, ‘Honestly, baseball is not that important to me,'” the player said. “And I could never figure out a way that didn’t sound like I took it for granted or didn’t want to be there. But if I had blown out a couple of years ago, or got released, I think I would have gotten over it really quick. I love it. It’s a passion. But I think every one of us is put here for a bigger purpose.”
So, while the now former player says he “gets it” that many will never understand his decision, he is happy. He’ll have more time to go fishing with his son. To teach him to shoot and hunt. To go horseback riding. And to spend one more summer with him until the boy starts his own next phase of life in high school.
Finally, he says he won’t bother trying to get back any of that $13 million by filing a union grievance.
“I did it,’ LaRoche said adamantly. “I made the final decision. And I can understand how people look at the $13 million. One, how stupid does somebody have to be? Or how selfish? Suck it up for six months, right?”
But there are no regrets.
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