On Tuesday, former Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche announced that he was abruptly “stepping away from baseball” with one year remaining on the two-year, $25 million contract he signed with the White Sox in 2014.
Thank u Lord for the game of baseball and for giving me way more than I ever deserved!#FamilyFirst
— Adam LaRoche (@e3laroche) March 15, 2016
“I’m confident I am stepping away from baseball,” LaRoche told the Chicago Tribune. “My teammates have asked me for an hour [to reconsider]. I’ve tried to convince them I am convinced, but I will let do them that, and give it a day or two, and then come back in and finish the story.”
On Wednesday, Fox’s Ken Rosenthal reported that LaRoche’s surprising decision was family-related, motivated by White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams telling him that he didn’t want LaRoche’s 14-year-old son Drake spending as much time in the clubhouse as he did last season.
Sources: LaRoche chose to retire after #WhiteSox prez Ken Williams told him that he no longer could bring 14-year-old son into clubhouse.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 16, 2016
Williams later said, in quotes posted to Rosenthal’s Facebook page, that Drake was still allowed in the clubhouse, but he asked LaRoche to “dial it back.”
“I don’t think he should be here 100 percent of the time – and he has been here 100 percent, every day, in the clubhouse,” Williams told Rosenthal. “I said that I don’t even think he should be here 50 percent of the time. Figure it out, somewhere in between. We all think his kid is a great young man. I just felt it should not be every day, that’s all. You tell me, where in this country can you bring your child to work every day?”
Drake was a regular in the Nationals’ clubhouse and on the field at spring training in Viera and at Nationals Park for much of the season during LaRoche’s four seasons in Washington. Players loved him and joked that Drake’s life was cooler than theirs. Bench coach Randy Knorr called him the the team’s “26th man.”
Adam LaRoche’s father, Dave LaRoche, pitched in the major leagues until Adam was 4 and then became a coach for the White Sox. Adam spent a lot of time at Comiskey Park with his dad and two brothers and has tried to provide Drake a similar experience throughout his career.
“We’re not big on school,” Adam LaRoche said in 2013. “I told my wife, ‘He’s going to learn a lot more useful information in the clubhouse than he will in the classroom, as far as life lessons.’ ”
(Update: When LaRoche was with the Nationals, LaRoche arranged Drake’s education with the public school in their hometown in Kansas. Drake, who went to class in the winter and saw a private tutor, was still required to pass the state’s standardized tests.)
Drake said goodbye to his D.C. family when his father signed with the White Sox after the 2014 season and spent a lot of time last year in the Chicago clubhouse, as usual, making new friends.
“There’s going to be a time coming pretty quick when [Drake and daughter Montana] are going to be out of the house, doing their own thing, and I don’t want to look back and regret these years where I could have done more,” LaRoche told the Chicago Tribune last June. “I learned that from my dad.”
Andy LaRoche tweeted in support of his brother’s decision on Tuesday. Former teammate Bryce Harper tweeted his support and repeated the #FamilyFirst hashtag after Wednesday’s news broke.
— Andy Laroche (@LarocheAndy) March 15, 2016
Good for you Roche! Nothing like father and son in the clubhouse..It's a FAMILY game #FamilyFirst
— Bryce Harper (@Bharper3407) March 16, 2016