Adam LaRoche – or better yet, Adam LaRoche’s son – find himself in a controversial crosshairs as to whether kids should be allowed in major league clubhouses on a regular basis.
Key words being “on a regular basis.”
Tony Gwynn Jr., not surprisingly, spent a lot of time in clubhouses as a kid and has fond memories of the experience.
“I learned a lot, honestly,” Gwynn Jr. told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I wasn’t there every day. I think you take lessons. You see guys struggling throughout the year and finally put it together; you’re able to take away that these guys kept working even when they were struggling. As you get older and you’re in the clubhouse, you start to pick up on other things – how off-the-field stuff can affect on-the-field stuff. If you’re paying attention as a young kid in the locker room, there really are a lot of life lessons that you can learn that prepare you for things other than baseball, that prepare you for life. So I’ve always been a big proponent of kids being in the clubhouse, (but) only if your teammates are okay with it, and as a team, you guys have to come to that type of decision.”
Gwynn Jr., 33, certainly wasn’t at every game, but he was sometimes the team bat boy on the road and occasionally was given his own locker. He doesn’t recall there ever being an issue.
“On my dad’s teams, those guys were cool about it,” Gwynn Jr. said. “They didn’t mind. I think at the time, my dad being a little bit further along in his career, a lot of guys looked at him and I and saw the relationship and saw the time we got to spend with each other and they were cool with it because they all had little kids that weren’t necessarily able to go to the field and participate in that type of stuff. But eventually, they wanted their kids to do that. I think you saw it later on as (Trevor Hoffman) and his kids got older, they were with him all the time. I think it really just depends on the type of team you have and the organization you’re with, if they’re going to allow that type of thing.”
Of course, it helps that Gwynn was one of the best hitters in MLB history. If he wanted his son there, you better believe the Padres were going to allow it.
Still, some players might not want kids in the locker room. They also might not feel comfortable telling their teammate, either.
“You’re dealing with grown men and they should be allowed to have the freedom to do and say what they want to say at their work place,” Gwynn said. “When there’s kids around, you always have to be cautious of that. It does become kind of an issue where you want the kids around as much as you can, but you got to be respectful of the guys who may not feel the same way about having kids in the work place like you do.”