Kids in the Clubhouse

Cliff Lee plays catch in the dugout with his son Jaxon, 8, before a game against the Giants on July 30, 2009.

Cliff Lee plays catch in the dugout with his son Jaxon, 8, before a game against the Giants on July 30, 2009.

One of the most interesting stories in Spring Training is Adam LaRoche‘s surprise retirement because the White Sox said he could not bring his son to the ballpark every day.

The story is crazy for a couple reasons:

  1. LaRoche surrendered $13 million in salary.
  2. He surrendered his salary because his boss said he could not bring his teenage son to work every day. Not ever, mind you. Just not every day.

Kids in the clubhouse is nothing new. Bob Boone‘s kids famously spent oodles of time in the Phillies’ clubhouse in the ’70s and ’80s. Since I’ve been covering the the Phillies, I’ve seen countless players bring their sons into the clubhouse. Some have them on the field before batting practice. Even more show up after a win. It is actually pretty cool to see, a child running up to his dad in a replica jersey and giving him a hug after a win.

But the Phillies have put limits on it. Generally, the rules have been this: children must leave once batting practice starts and they are allowed to return only after a win. They are reasonable rules and nobody seemed to abuse them. Nobody brought their son to the ballpark every day. Certainly no kid had his own locker.

I’ve talked to a few people about LaRoche’s stand this week and I’ve received different opinions. One person said he had absolutely no problem with LaRoche’s son being in the clubhouse. Everybody else, however, said it can be too much. And the problem is players are not going to confront a popular veteran teammate about bringing their son to work too much. Nobody wants to look like a jerk. Nobody wants to create a rift. And based on the reactions from Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, who called LaRoche’s kid a “leader” (say what?), they were right in doing what they probably did: Go to the front office to complain.

I think most players look at it like this: if you want to have your son around every once in a while, that’s cool. I imagine it’s an awesome experience for father and son. But they also must know this is a place of business with millions of dollars and jobs on the line. Some players don’t like any distractions. Some players are fighting like hell to make the team or keep their job. They’re there to work. Not that LaRoche wasn’t, but sometimes a good thing can be too much.

9 Comments

LaRoche’s BA with son Drake in the clubhouse is 19 points less than his lifetime average. Distraction? The Sox have every right to find out. Williams should have addressed this issue sometime last year, instead of now. I hope LaRoche sticks around–that’s a lot of money to just chuck.

I totally agree with your take on the issue. I have felt that the Sox did the right thing. Laroche is asking too much of a club or Williams especially if many players were rightfully annoyed. Even if there was a sub rosa agreement, changed circumstances required that Williams cut back on the amount and nature of Drake’s visits. Laroche is acting like a victim in this instance and he’s losing a great deal of money that his family could use just to make a point.
Even Ken Griffey Jr. only spent 5 games a year with his dad in Cincy.

But when LaRoche signed he made that deal about his son in the club house or he wouldn’t of signed!!! Not sure what happened!! But something does smell!!!

If anything, it was an oral agreement-not reduced to a contractual clause. In my opinion, he is a cry baby regardless of whether he was told he could bring his son. Imagine any other business where people are fighting to be competitive and being annoyed by a 14 year old kid-even if he is a good kid.

Why is my new always the end of all!!!!

Why is Money always the end of all!!!!

So you don’t want the kid there…the father leaves….end of story! It wasn’t a problem till now? If he is a distraction, then fellow teammates should say so. These people are making millions of dollars…stand up for yourself…and remember this is a game…even if they make millions…A Game! Now if he were a surgeon, it’s another story.

Fellow teammates DID complain but didn’t want to face LaRoche directly so they told the manager and it went up the chain. Ken Williams got stuck with the job. It’s not a game. It’s a billion dollar business. It stopped being a game decades ago.

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