Former MLB Player Gabe Kapler on Being a Good Father (and Not Taking PEDs)

With Spring Training in full swing, I want to highlight a baseball-related fatherhood story–how one MLB player chose being a role model to his kids over the temptation of using PEDs.

I figured that ultimately I would be in a position in which I’d be forced to impart one of two lessons: “don’t do it like dad” or “follow in my footsteps.” I chose the latter. – Gabe Kapler

Gabe Kapler at Fenway Park
Gabe Kapler’s decision to eschew PEDs was made, in part, based on his concerns about being a good father and role model to his children (Photo: Wikipedia, creative commons license)

Gabe Kapler was a major league baseball player for 12 years. He was never a star, but was a frontline player for several years before becoming a role-player. In a recent article at Baseball Prospectus, Kapler wrote a fantastic, nuanced article about performance-enhancing drugs in baseball and his decision to eschew them. In his own words:

Realizing that I’d begun to decline was my moment of truth, the perfect opportunity to step across the threshold from the red to the black (or vice-versa) depending on moral compass. I was about to lose my role as a major league starting outfielder and slide gracefully into my role player/“good teammate” archetype.

Fame and fortune were still mine for the taking if the devil on my shoulder had a loud enough voice. He did not…. Despite the potential fairytale [of potentially increased performance, stardom and money], I never really got close to the decision to use PEDs.

… I was able to predict future conversations with my more mature children. I figured that ultimately I would be in a position in which I’d be forced to impart one of two lessons: “don’t do it like dad” or “follow in my footsteps.” I chose the latter.

I love that last paragraph. It makes for a really good guide for our behavior as fathers. Our kids learn more from what we do than what we say.

Great advice to keep in mind as we make life decisions big and small, not just about ethical questions, but about how we spend our time, what our priorities are, etc. We need to go through life making conscious decisions that are well aligned with our priorities instead of making decisions on auto-pilot. Ultimately, I think we’d all rather live in a way so that our kids will want to “do it like dad.”

Thank you, Gabe Kapler, for the reminder.

What do you think of Kapler’s example? Of being a role model? Let’s discuss in the comment section.

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3 thoughts on “Former MLB Player Gabe Kapler on Being a Good Father (and Not Taking PEDs)

  1. Kapler has become one of my favorite players after he retired. Very intelligent and real. And, I especially like his approach to how he talks about PEDs since based on his physique and time-frame in which he played, many people just assumed he was on PEDs.

    • Agreed, his writing and media appearances have been very thoughtful.

      I also have a VIVID memory of him. I took my dad to Fenway on father’s day many years ago. He was playing for Texas at the time and facing a totally-in-the-groove Pedro Martinez. Pedro was so on, that Kapler struck out swinging at a pitch that hit him in the chest!

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