Baseball fans are very familiar with the image of young boys standing in the shadows of their baseball-playing fathers. That's how we first got to know Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds and Prince Fielder, among others. Numerous ballplayers continue the tradition today — whether it's Koji Uehara's son who took center stage in the 2013 postseason or Adam LaRoche's son, who is around so much he's practically on the Washington Nationals' roster.
But you know who we don't see running around the field and in the clubhouse? Players' daughters.
Baseball is a boy's club in that way, always has been and probably will be for years to come. With the exception of reporters and team staff, we don't see very many females in MLB clubhouses. In the postseason, when a team wins a series, you'll see wives and moms and maybe some kids. Otherwise? Nope.
The Cleveland Indians have changed that just a bit. At the urging of veteran slugger Jason Giambi and with the blessings of general manager Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona, the Indians decided this season to let their players' daughters into the clubhouse.
It's not every day, just after home games on Sundays. But on a team where there's "900 daughters," according to Mike Aviles (that might be a slight exaggeration), the Tribe is getting more inclusive. Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal tells us how the decision came to be:
The idea came from designated hitter Jason Giambi, who said he was thinking outside the box as he prepared to interview for the Colorado Rockies’ managerial vacancy before the 2013 season. Giambi has a 2½-year-old daughter, London.
“I had to take a step back. ‘If I’m managing, how would the team represent me?’ ” Giambi said. “That’s what you have to do, you have to have that connection with your players. There’s so many little girls, and daddies always have their little girls. It would be something cool they could share.”
Nick Swisher has a 1-year-old daughter and he estimates that he and his teammates have about 40 children between them. Aviles has three girls, including 3-year-old twins. Corey Kluber has two daughters too. Ryan Raburn became a daddy to a daughter recently, and that's just to name a few.
The Indians make special plans for Sundays when the young girls come to visit, and at least one player thinks the extra effort is totally worth it:
Home clubhouse and equipment manager Tony Amato loved the idea and found garment racks that the Indians hang their street clothes on when they dress before the game. The racks are rolled into the shower area near the trainers’ room for later, when the doors open for the kids.
Right fielder David Murphy, with daughters Madison, 6, and Faith, 5, and son Cole, 3, likes that the Indians are teaching their children equality, even if they don’t know it yet.
“Ever since they’ve been old enough to realize my son can come in the clubhouse any time, they get a little jealous,” Murphy said of his girls. “We try to make this game and the organization as family-friendly as possible, but in a lot of situations it has to exclude females. I think it’s awesome the way the girls have gotten to come in the clubhouse because they want to see what daddy does as much as our little boys do. It makes them feel special and I guess it makes them feel on the inside of things as opposed to the outside.”
Good job, Indians. Maybe more MLB teams will adopt the occasional "take your daughter to the clubhouse" day. That way when we think about kids in the clubhouse, we won't just think about the boys playing baseball under the watchful eye of their dad.
We'll also think about the girls who grew to love the game a little more and their dads a lot more.
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