New Dads Zack Britton and Greg Holland Square Off in the American League Championship Series

Zach Britton and Greg Holland, the closers for the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals, who face off against each other in the American League Championship Series starting tomorrow, became dads this past week. Congrats to the new dads, and a reminder of how employer and societal attitudes are shifting.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you know that two of the great loves of my life are fatherhood and baseball (Amy’s the other). Well, October means the playoffs and World Series, but for two players, October also means new fatherhood.

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Building Father-Child Memories That Last

If we want to be remembered as good dads, we have to both put in the hard work of being a good father and also carve out time for fun, memorable shared experiences with our kids. Here are some ideas on how to maximize the latter.

Star Wars is one of our family traditions
Star Wars is one of our family traditions

Flying in an airplane is much safer than covering the same distance riding in a car. Yet, most people are more afraid of flying than driving. One of the main reasons why is “Availability Bias,” in which things that are easier to call to mind (like the rare plane crash that is all over the news) are given greater weight than things that are less memorable (like the thousands of car crashes a day).

Most of the time, the availability bias is a problem that leads us to make faulty decisions regarding risk (at the beach, we may be more concerned with shark attacks than skin cancer; after watching Law & Order SVU, we vastly overestimate the incidence of child abduction, etc.). But we can also use this quirk of human memory to our advantage.

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The Mets’ John Olerud Took Paternity Leave in 1998 To No Criticism. Where Were Francesa and Boomer Then?

When the controversy over Daniel Murphy’s paternity leave erupted last week (see my articles here and here, and appearance on CBS This Morning here), I thought of another Met who took paternity leave 16 years ago to little fanfare. How things have and haven’t progressed since 1998.

John Olerud took an informal paternity leave during the 1998 season.
John Olerud took an informal paternity leave during the 1998 season. (image by Webdesign, use under Creative Commons)

1998: The Year of Dawson’s Creek, Monica Lewinski, Dixie Chicks, Saving Private Ryan, ER, and Harry Potter!

As part of an article I wrote for the Journal of Diversity Management a loooooooong time ago, I discussed work-family issues in sports and highlighted the 1998 paternity leave of John Olerud. Here is an except from that article, and some new commentary below:

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Carl Crawford Leads Off- Another Baseball Season, Another Paternity Leave

Los Angeles Dodger Carl Crawford will begin the 2014 baseball season on paternity leave, making use of MLB’s forward-thinking policy- the first of its kind in major US sports. I see this as yet another reason to celebrate the beginning of a new baseball season!

283px-Carl_Crawford
Soon-to-be new dad Carl Crawford {Photo by Googie man under Creative Commons license}

(A quick note: Today I have articles published at Good Men Project and Daily Plate of Crazy. Please go check them out. I’ll also re-post them here soon)

Baseball season starts a bit early this year, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks playing a two-game series in Sydney, Australia on March 22-23, a full week before traditional opening day.

However, Dodgers’ outfielder Carl Crawford’s wife is expected to have her baby near that date, and he will be the first player of the 2014 season to avail himself of MLB’s paternity leave policy.

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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:

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From Father to Son- Passing Along Life Lessons

I learned many life lessons from my father, and I sure hope I’m passing these along to my son.

Last week, the fun lifestyle website DailyPlatofCrazy.com ran a feature for articles about men looking back at their childhoods with their fathers. Please click on the screencap below for my contribution to the series. It’s about baseball, Star Wars, and the values I learned from my dad and am trying to model for Nick.

My contribution to the Fathers & Sons series at DailyPlateofCrazy.com
My contribution to the Fathers & Sons series at DailyPlateofCrazy.com

What memories do you have as a kid that you are now sharing with your kids? What lessons are you trying to impart? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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MLB Paternity Leave Update: Joe Mauer of the Twins is a Proud Father of, well, Twins!

Minnesota Twins superstar catcher Joe Mauer is among 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 Mauers on their twins, and kudos to MLB for sending an important signal about the importance of fatherhood.

If there’s anything Joe Mauer knows it’s Twins!

MVP, batting champ, new dad to twins- Joe Mauer is supported by MLB's paternity leave policy
MVP, batting champ, new dad to twins- Joe Mauer is supported by MLB’s paternity leave policy

From HardballTalk.com:

(Thursday July 25, 2013) In Minnesota there’s a different Royal Baby watch going on. Joe Mauer was a last-minute scratch from last night’s lineup, leaving the Twins in California and flying back home to Minnesota because his wife went into labor with twins.

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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).

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MLB Paternity Leave Update: Cleveland Indians Outfielder Nick Swisher

Cleveland Indians outfielder Nick Swisher and his wife welcomed their first child on Tuesday (and as Yahoo! Sports notes, knowing Swish’s fun-loving style, he’s probably REALLY REALLY REALLY excited). He returns from a three-day paternity leave tomorrow.

New dad, Indians OF Nick Swisher, returns from paternity leave today (he can hit a little, too!)
New dad, Indians OF Nick Swisher, returns from paternity leave tomorrow (he can hit a little, too!)

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Oakland A’s Slugger Brandon Moss Takes Paternity Leave

The First Paternity Leave of the 2013 Major League Baseball Season- The Oakland A’s Brandon Moss

Oakland Athletics' Brandon Moss is a new dad taking paternity leave- he can also hit a little (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Oakland Athletics’ Brandon Moss is a new dad taking paternity leave- he can also hit a little (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

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.

… and, of course, congratulations to Brandon Moss and his wife!

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On Work and Fatherhood Priorities (with Bill Bryson and Ferris Bueller)

How could I turn down a chance to play catch with him? Work can wait.

Bill Bryson is my favorite author, and puts my writing skills to shame.  His humorous travel writing (e.g., In a Sunburned Country, A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson’s African Diary, Neither Here Nor There), memoirs (e.g., The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, I’m a Stranger Here Myself), and science/history books (A Short History of Nearly Everything, At Home) are all fantastic.  He may have written the best passage about Fathers, Work and Family that I have ever read.   The following is excerpted from “On Losing a Son (to College)” from Bill Bryson’s book I’m a Stranger Here Myself, 1999:

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The Dangers of Over-Scheduling (or, relax, Scott, Nicky will almost certainly not be an Olympic gymnast)

The idea for this post came to me while sitting in traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge taking my son Nick to gymnastics.

Nick at gymnastics

More than anything, our kids need time with their dads.  Even more than that, they need time with us when we are truly present- not surreptitiously texting, not stressing out about what we need to do at work tomorrow, but truly focused on our kids and making the time we have (limited as it sometimes is) really enjoyable.  We all know this, but it is often hard to carve out the time (see my previous post about family dinners for more on this topic). 

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