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David Brown

Chris Woodward sacrifices Red Sox playoffs to care for sick child

David Brown
Big League Stew

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Last October, when faced with a choice that could cost him professionally, Chris Woodward(notes) made the only decision a father felt he could.

Then an infielder with the Boston Red Sox, Woodward was ecstatic when the team told him he would be added to its postseason roster.

Woodward had just one playoff appearance in his career to his name — he hit a double against the Dodgers in the Mets' clinching of the 2006 NLDS — and was looking forward to leaving his mark.

Woodward's joy soon doubled when his wife Erin gave birth to the couple's third child, a son named Grady, on the first day of October.

Everything was looking great for his career and for his family.

But the next morning, the couple's two-year-old son, Mason, developed a 104-degree fever.

It was swine flu.

And so Erin and Grady were moved into a hotel over concerns for their health. Woodward, meanwhile, left the team to take care of Mason and eight-year-old Sophie, at home.

From Larry LaRue's terrific story in the Tacoma News Tribune:

A few days into that chaotic schedule, the Red Sox called and wanted him back.

"I explained what was going on. I mean, I couldn't leave my kids with someone else," Woodward said. "People ask me, 'How many chances will you get to win a World Series?'

"My thought was always, 'How would I live with myself if something happened to my family when I was playing baseball?' "

So Woodward told the Red Sox thanks, but no thanks.

The Red Sox team doctor called Woodward and asked how much exposure he'd had to Mason.

"I told him, all day, every day," Woodward said. "I didn't have symptoms, but he said if I could avoid contact for a week, I could rejoin the team. I told him that wasn't going to happen — I was the only parent who could be with Mason, and I wasn't about to leave him."

Mason's condition improved and the family moved back in together within two weeks — but only after the Los Angeles Angels had bounced the Red Sox from the playoffs.

A few weeks later, Woodward ended up catching the swine flu. And about a month after that, the newborn caught it.

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This is Oprah-worthy stuff right here.

Thankfully everybody is healthy now and Woodward is trying to earn a job with the Mariners, but what an amazing ordeal.

Woodward, 33, has been in the majors for parts of 10 seasons, but he's only played more than 100 games in a season once — so I'm not sure about his pension eligibilty or how wealthy he is.

Baseball-Reference guesses that he's grossed about $4.8 million playing in the majors. Accounting for taxes and expenses, well, who knows how comfortable the Woodwards are?

Considering he hasn't had Derek Jeter's(notes) career, Woodward made a real baseball sacrifice. Sure, the Red Sox were eliminated in the first round, but he didn't know that would happen. Woodward could have played, and even if he didn't make a difference in the series outcome, he still could have put it on his resume.

Because of insurance and other financial issues, many fathers aren't in any position to leave work when a child gets sick. Woodward is lucky in that sense.

His children, meanwhile, are lucky to have a dad like him.

Hat tip: Extra Bases

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