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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Daniel Murphy: From Paternity Leave to All Star

You may recall the media firestorm a few months ago, when NY Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy took paternity leave and missed the first two games of the season to be at his son’s birth. A few months later, Murphy has rewarded his employer with a career year and, tonight, he makes his first all-star appearance. Here’s a look back.

Here’s what I wrote for the Wall Street Journal on this subject a few months ago:

The Good News From the Daniel Murphy Paternity Leave Kerfuffle

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Idiots Mike Francesa, Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton Are So Very Very Wrong About MLB Paternity Leave

Idiots Mike Francesa, Craig Carton and Boomer Esiason said awful things in reaction to the Mets’ Daniel Murphy’s recent paternity leave. Their ugly, ignorant remarks are a disgrace and need to be repudiated in the strongest possible terms.

Boomer and Carton are idiots
Boomer and Carton are idiots

The wife of NY Mets’ second baseman Daniel Murphy went into labor just before opening day. He missed their first game of the season, and may miss one or two more. As I have reported here at FWF multiple times, MLB is the first major league sport to provide players with up to 72 hours of paternity leave. I am on record that this policy sends an important public signal about the importance of fatherhood.

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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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“Moments of Accommodation” An Interview with Major League Baseball on Paternity Leave

Paul Mifsud, Senior Counsel, Labor Relations for Major League Baseball was nice enough to speak with me about their paternity leave policy. One of Paul’s primary responsibilities is working with teams and the players on rules changes within the game of baseball, ranging from drug programs to instant replay to paternity leave. He’s also a busy working father of three. I greatly appreciate his time.

MLB All Star Home Run Derby 2013
In my opinion, MLB hit a home run with its paternity leave policy (Photo credit: gargudojr)

For the past few months, I’ve been reporting on players who use Major League Baseball’s Paternity Leave Policy and have repeatedly praised MLB for their high-profile support of working dads. Could you summarize Major League Baseball’s paternity leave policy?

Prior to the 2011 season, when Major League Baseball first implemented the Paternity List, most Clubs allowed players several days of paid leave upon the birth and adoption of a child, but were required to play short when the player was absent. The establishment of the Paternity List enables Clubs to replace players who are granted leave for a maximum of three days, while continuing to pay the players and maintain a full roster of active players during the leave period.

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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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