MLB Paternity Leave Update: Jason Kubel, Michael Bourn and Miguel Gonzalez

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Jason Kubel, Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Bourn and Baltimore Orioles pitcher Miguel Gonzalez are the latest ballplayers to avail themselves of Major League Baseball’s paternity leave policy- the first of its kind in major US sports. Congrats to the Kubels, Bourns and Gonzalezes, and kudos to MLB for sending an important signal about the importance of fatherhood.

Cheer up, Jason. You have a beautiful new daughter and the support of your sport to spend her first few days with her
Cheer up, Jason. You have a beautiful new daughter and the support of your sport to spend her first few days with her

Add three more proud papas to the list.

To my knowledge (and I’m sure I’m missing a few), Kubel, Bourn and Gonzalez represent the fourth, fifth and sixth prominent MLB players this season to avail themselves of Major League Baseball’s paternity leave policy- the first formal policy among US major league sports (and yes, I’m even including hockey and MLS soccer).

New dad Michael Bourn has a lot to be happy about
New dad Michael Bourn has a lot to be happy about
gonzalez
So does new dad Miguel Gonzalez

When Brandon Moss of the Oakland A’s and Nick Swisher of the Cleveland Indians took paternity leave earlier this season (apologies to Indians pitcher Matt Albers, whose paternity leave I missed at the time), I commented on MLB’s policy:

It is only 72 hours, but it’s a step in the right direction. Baseball’s policy, unique among major sports, represents a formal endorsement of the concept of paternity leave.

Prior to this policy, players were often excused for a day or two by their teams- but it was totally at management’s discretion, and the team would have to play with the disadvantage of one fewer player on the roster until the new dad returned.

Now, teams can call up a player from their minor league system to replace the new dad on the roster for the 2-3 games he misses and the team cannot deny up to a 72-hour leave.

It is refreshing to see some progressive family leave policies in the macho and all-male culture of US Major League Sports. Things are changing slowly, even in football, but baseball is leading the way.

I also recently applauded Yahoo’s newly announced paternity leave policy. In my opinion, the more visible examples we have of organizations supporting working dads, the better. Culture only changes slowly, over time, because of the accumulation of hundreds of small decisions. Both MLB’s and Yahoo’s represent small contributions to this culture change.

And change is desperately needed. According to Boston College’s Center for Work and Family’s study of working dads:

  • Almost none take formal paternity leave
  • 75% of men take one week or less of accumulated time off (sick, personal, vacation days) after the birth of a child
  • 16% are unable to take any days off after the birth of a child

Considering that dads’ time with children benefits everyone- kids, moms, dads, families, society- we need more support for working dads. Thanks, MLB!

What do you think about MLB’s Paternity Leave Policy? Any paternity leave stories to share? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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PS- If you hear of any baseball players taking paternity leave, please let me know! I want to keep the list as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

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