Adam LaRoche will return to Nationals Park on Saturday but not to play. Along with his son Drake, for whom the former first baseman famously quit baseball, LaRoche will throw out the first pitch of the team’s second National League Division Series game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. Drake will catch the pitch from his father.
“We’re a family-oriented team,” said Valerie Camillo, the team’s chief revenue and marketing officer, according to 106.7 The Fan.
That sentiment echoes the team’s policy that allowed LaRoche to bring his school-aged son Drake to the clubhouse nearly every day during the four seasons he played for the Nats, from 2011 to 2014.
“Drake has grown into part of the team’s fabric,” Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore wrote in 2013.
Then 11, Drake LaRoche spent his time shining shoes and running other errands for the team. Bench coach Randy Knorr referred to him as “the 26th man,” according to Kilgore.
When LaRoche announced the reason for his early retirement this year, giving up $13 million left on his contract in the process, his former Nats teammate Bryce Harper praised the decision.
LaRoche said he remains confident he made the right decision — and not just because it allowed him to spend more time with his son. LaRoche also had an eye-opening experience last offseason working to stop underage sex trafficking in Southeast Asia.
“I think having two kids of my own, especially a 12-year-old daughter, it’s impossible not to picture, ‘Man, what if this is my daughter?’ ” LaRoche told “Good Morning America” in April about his experience.
Baseball, he said, “wasn’t at all” important to him after that trip.
“I have zero regrets,” he said of his decision to retire and leave so much money on the table.
Former MLB star Livan Hernandez, who spent seven years with the Nats over the course of his 17-year career, was supposed to throw out the first pitch in Friday’s series opener. Unfortunately, however, Hurricane Matthew will prevent the Cuba native from traveling to Washington, D.C., according to MASN’s Dan Kolko.