Many fans of America’s favorite past time were surprised to hear about this when it first surfaced in the news in early 2014 – I know this author was – but it’s true, Major League baseball has a “Paternity List” which allows players to lawfully leave a team when their spouse is in the process of delivering birth to a child.
Pursuant to Major League Baseball’s 2011 collective bargaining agreement with the Player’s Union, major league baseball players are afforded three days of paternity leave.
This provision came to light when New York Mets second baseman, Daniel Murphy, exercised his right to paternity leave in early April 2014 to join his wife and new son. Murphy’s decision to take paternity leave was not greeted enthusiastically by many in the sports world.
Boomer Esiason suggested that Murphy’s wife should have had a “c-section” before the season so that Murphy would not miss any games. Not cool Boomer!
Additionally, New York radio host Mike Francesa on WFAN was equally upset with Murphy and went as far to say that Murphy’s wife really didn’t need him to be there in the first few days following birth.
The surfacing of Murphy’s case in the media raises some unique questions.
For example, should professional athletes be given paternity leave or is the obligation to their teams and fans too great to justify paternity leave?
Furthermore, is it time that the country in general starts a comprehensive dialogue on the subject of paternity leave for all Americans?
In the end, this case is yet another example of how the fields of family law and policy have become completely intertwined with multiple facets of American society.
It’s difficult to say with certainty how the concept of paternity leave will evolve but it seems likely that the topic will remain within the public discourse.
One thing is for sure, at least for now, paternity leave is here to stay in Major League Baseball.