Fatherhood – What’s it Like to be Really There?

Fatherhood – What’s it Like to be Really There?

While some couples face parenthood together since day 1, others do not. As the mothers are the ones who are carrying the baby, it is always a different story for the fathers. In fact, though paternity leaves were granted before, not all of the expecting fathers grab this chance to be there for the birth of their children. Let alone when the child takes their first steps using a baby walker.

However, in baseball history, one newborn has a unique distinction among the rest.  She was among one of the first babies to have ever had her father witness her birth. Elizabeth Grace Lewis, the daughter of Colby Lewis, the right-hander of the Texas Rangers, was a newborn that had her father on the paternity leave list.

While paternity leaves have already been granted before, it is only a recent development among baseball teams, having been discussed only a few years ago. Because it is a new policy, many who are involved in baseball thought of this idea as foreign. The paternity leave allows any member of the team to leave for a couple of days. He shall be replaced in the roster for up to 3 days for him to witness the birth of his child.

As earlier mentioned, some expecting fathers may want involvement and others may not as it is different from one couple to the other. That is why Peter Woodfork, the senior vice president of the Major League Baseball, mentioned that granting it leaves no gray area. One can opt to leave or not, so it is a win-win situation for both sides. Besides, some team members are already doing it anyway and are taking a leave for a couple of days, so they might as well let it materialize by granting it to them. Woodfork stated that because some team members do take a paternity leave, they end up playing short, and this was not what they are aiming.

Now that this has been opened to baseball players, people started noticing how fathers are not always present during the birth of their child. In fact, the manager of Lewis, Ron Washington also shared his experiences as a major baseball player in the late 90s. When he thinks about it, as an active member of the team, he never really had a memory of anyone from his team taking a leave to witness the birth of his child. Every season, he does not even realize that maybe one of them already is a father. It was always like that for everyone. The Rangers broadcaster, Tom Grieve also added that he does not bother to ask as well, and it díd not even cross his mind at all.

What worries them is that once they take a leave for a day or two, another one might take their place. Grieve, who was traded to the Mets, said that his dedication made him miss the birth of his daughter, Katie. Back then, he never wanted to miss a day of spring training. Never did his dedication sway, and because of that, he did the opening day roster – something he always wanted before. Now, looking back, he stated that it was not even worth it.

Times were indeed different back then. The good thing is that the paternity leave list was granted and was even changed to have more benefits. Now, a lot of coverage is already included like the 7-day disabled list for players who have injuries and concussions, and a 3 to 7-day bereavement list for those who experienced a sudden death or illness from close members of the player’s family. With this, players can now leave without worrying too much and actually enjoy the benefits being offered to them.

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