ST. LOUIS — Washington Nationals reliever Daniel Hudson returned to the National League Championship Series Saturday morning after missing Game 1 to launch a national conversation about family values and also to witness the birth of his third child.
Appearing a bit groggy after an early-morning flight from Phoenix, Hudson, the 32-year-old veteran of six teams and two Tommy John surgeries, said his wife Sara and baby Millie were happy and healthy. The result of the previous night’s baseball game – the Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals – was a welcome event as well, he said, and also not related to his choice to attend the arrival of one of the three joys of his life, his children being “1A, 1B and 1C”, in no order, or the hindsight evaluation of that choice.
“I knew I was going no matter what,” said Hudson, who praised the Nationals for their understanding and, indeed, encouragement. “My family is top priority for me. I heard somebody say one time baseball’s what I do, it’s not who I am. And kind of once you have kids or once I had kids it really resonated with me. So to be able to be a part of that was awesome.”
Hudson flew early Thursday morning to Phoenix from Los Angeles, where the Nationals had eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers the night before. Millie, Daniel and Sara’s third daughter, was born Friday evening, he said. In the meantime, Daniel’s teammates were here, preparing to play the first NLCS game in Washington Nationals history and then actually played that game, all without the father-to-be, sparking a decent amount of, let’s call it “debate” (mostly on social media), over a man’s priorities when he happens to be a ballplayer and the month happens to be October.
“My wife, she’s a rock star, she’s been around … the game as long as I have,” Hudson said. “She knows kind of what’s going on. Obviously we didn’t exactly plan to have a baby in the middle of the playoffs, but … you plan something and stuff goes crazy.”
He’d seen or heard about fans who questioned his commitment to the team. He’d also been made aware of, for one particularly ripe example, former Miami Marlins president David Samson’s Twitter take – “Unreal that Daniel Hudson is on the paternity list and missing game 1 of NLCS. Only excuse would be a problem with the birth or health of baby or mother. If all is well, he needs to get to St. Louis. Inexcusable. Will it matter? #waittosee” – which was met with a reasonable amount of indignation.
Hudson grinned. Presumably, it would be quite a bit easier to live with his own decision than it would be with that sort of callous perspective.
“We were made aware of a lot of stuff that was going on, obviously,” he said. “Watching the game, it was hard to ignore. I mean, I went, I was just telling somebody, I went from not having a job on March 21 to this huge national conversation on family values going into the playoffs. Like, hey, life comes at you fast, man. Like, I don’t know how that happened and how I became the face for whatever conversation was going on.
“Everybody’s got their opinions, man, and I really value my family and my family time … We were made aware of a lot of negative comments, but everybody’s got their opinions and everybody’s got their own priorities. And this organization was a hundred percent on board with what my priorities are and I’m really appreciative of that.”
In the hours after little Millie was born, surrounded by her entire family, Daniel received a text from his manager, Davey Martinez. Given the outcome of Game 1 – Anibal Sanchez threw 7 2/3 innings before allowing a hit and Sean Doolittle recorded the final four outs – Martinez suggested a name for the newcomer: “Anibella Sean.”
“My wife got a good kick out of that,” Hudson said. “That was pretty funny.”
So, welcome to the world, Millie. This is what it looks like, sometimes. Stick with your dad and mom, your family. Try to avoid the idiots.
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