Drake Laroche is lucky boy.
Drake’s dad is Major League Baseball star, Adam Laroche. In a way that every 11 year old boy can only dream, Drake has grown up shagging fly balls for MLB megastars. While all of his friends collected baseball cards, Drake high-fived baseball’s best and brightest. Because of Adam’s success career, Drake has grown up in a home of economic privilege; his dad’s net worth is estimated to be $35 million. But we all know of children whose privileged upbringing scarred them. They had parents who plied them with opulent gifts but seldom invested their time. (Remember Paris Hilton or Tori Spelling?) Drake has a dad who has proven his love by investing time in Drake.
Adam Laroche recently made national media headlines when he walked away from a $13 million contract when the Chicago White Sox asked him to limit 14-year-old Drake’s access to the team clubhouse. Because of the amount of travel involved in the life of a major league baseball player, Adam had made a decision to have Drake with him on the road. Adam refused to be an absentee dad, seeing his kid on Monday’s when the team stopped over in Chicago during long road trips. Drake was with the team a lot; the Chicago Tribune described him as the team’s 26th man (MLB teams have 25 man rosters).
The argument from the side of White Sox management was that Drake was a distraction. Outfielder Adam Eaton didn’t see it that way: “On our side of things, I think everyone would say we enjoyed Drake LaRoche in the clubhouse and everything he brought to the clubhouse. He helped out around and wasn’t a burden by any stretch of the imagination. . . Adam and Drake are probably the most respected people in baseball I ever played with. Drake would clean cleats, he would help out in drills, pick up baseballs when we needed. he didn’t say boo to anybody and was never a trouble in the clubhouse.” Drake seems to have been a very admirable young man.
When Adam was asked to limit Drake’s presence in the team clubhouse, he made a huge decision – a decision that had to speak volumes to his son over how important he is. Adam walked away from baseball. At the age of 36, he hung up his spikes, tweeting out, “Thank u Lord for the game of baseball and for giving me way more than I ever deserved! #FamilyFirst”
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not arguing that the White Sox or team president Ken Williams are in the wrong here. That debate can be left to people way smarter than me. I am trying to point out an act of family heroism. LaRoche’s commitment to his family is an example that I can only hope challenges countless fathers who give their children very little time or attention.
We live in an era where family dinners have decreased 33% over the last 20 years. Family vacations have decreased 28% in that same timespan. A 2015 study revealed that kids spend more than 6 hours a day looking at screens (computers, television, tablets, or phones). We live in a distracted world and families are spending less and less time with each other.
The challenge for Christians is that God has called us to teach our children His ways. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 records God’s instruction to the Israelites: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on our hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” The call is clear that we need to teach our children – when we sit and when when walk by the way, when we lie down and when we rise. I don’t know how you teach like that unless you are around your kids. Parents, be involved! Invest your time in your child. This is your Christian duty. It is your parental responsibility. It is your joy.
Adam LaRoche draws his convictions about parenting from his faith in Christ. A non-denominational Christian, describes himself as a “follower of Jesus Christ.” In a 2013 interview, LaRoche talked about an epiphany of sorts that he had in 2008.
I asked myself: “Why are we here?” I’ve asked a few people that over the years. “What is our purpose on this earth?” My opinion is that it’s to spread God’s Word and that’s it. And when that finally hit me, it put baseball and all that other stuff in perspective. I heard a chaplain put it this way: What do you want written on your tombstone? Do you want “Adam Larouche: Gold Glove, batting average, hit so many homers, and has a million dollars in his bank account,” or do you want “Adam LaRoche: Man of God, integrity, raised a great family, loving.” Let’s be honest: I don’t know anybody who wants their stats.
LaRoche spoke those words 8 years ago. They weren’t just talk either. He is a serious man, especially when it comes to his faith and his family. Serious people put their money where their mouth is. That is exactly what Adam LaRoche did!
I wonder what you are thinking right now. Just recently I was watching one of the umpteenth political debates. My daughter came in to spend time with me. It had been a very long and exhausting day for me. I shhhh’ed her away. And for what? To see a political debate? Really?! What an idiot I can be! But let’s be honest. I bet you have similar stories with your kids. You may not have brushed them off for a political debate; maybe your distraction was social media, a favorite television program, another round of golf, a page-turning book, watching cat videos on YouTube, or talking on the phone to a friend. Whatever the distraction was, how important was it really? What value do you place on time with your kids?
Drake LaRoche will never have to wonder how much his dad valued time with him. At a minimum, we can say that it was worth more than $13 million.
Like I said, Drake LaRoche is a very lucky boy.