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  • Writer's pictureScott Behson

MLB Paternity Leave Update: Joe Mauer of the Twins is a Proud Father of, well, Twins!

Minnesota Twins superstar catcher Joe Mauer is among the latest ballplayers to avail themselves of Major League Baseball’s paternity leave policy- the first of its kind in major US sports. Congrats to the Mauers on their twins, and kudos to MLB for sending an important signal about the importance of fatherhood.

If there’s anything Joe Mauer knows it’s Twins!

MVP, batting champ, new dad to twins- Joe Mauer is supported by MLB's paternity leave policy

MVP, batting champ, new dad to twins- Joe Mauer is supported by MLB’s paternity leave policy

(Thursday July 25, 2013) In Minnesota there’s a different Royal Baby watch going on. Joe Mauer was a last-minute scratch from last night’s lineup, leaving the Twins in California and flying back home to Minnesota because his wife went into labor with twins. Her due date was August 31, but twins often arrive a lot earlier than expected and Mauer will miss at least a few games while on paternity leave. There wasn’t enough time to add another player to the roster for last night’s game, but Chris Herrmann started in Mauer’s place at catcher and ended up hitting a grand slam in the 10th inning to seal a victory over the Angels. Maddie Mauer gave birth to twin girls named Emily and Maren early this morning. Joe made it back just in time.

To my knowledge (and I’m sure I’m missing a few), Mauer is the tenth* prominent MLB player this season to avail himself of Major League Baseball’s paternity leave policy- the first formal policy among US major league sports (and yes, I’m even including hockey and MLS soccer).

When Michael Bourn, Miguel Gonzalez, Jason Kubel, Matt Albers, Brandon Moss, and Nick Swisher took paternity leave earlier this season (see prior articles here), I commented on MLB’s policy:

It is only 72 hours, but it’s a step in the right direction. Baseball’s policy, unique among major sports, represents a formal endorsement of the concept of paternity leave. Prior to this policy, players were often excused for a day or two by their teams- but it was totally at management’s discretion, and the team would have to play with the disadvantage of one fewer player on the roster until the new dad returned. Now, teams can call up a player from their minor league system to replace the new dad on the roster for the 2-3 games he misses and the team cannot deny up to a 72-hour leave.

It is refreshing to see progressive family leave policies in the particularly macho and win-at-all-costs alpha male culture of US Major League Sports.

But, here’s a twist. The Twin’s twins were born several weeks premature, so Mauer will miss the rest of the current road trip while he spends time with his wife and newborn twin daughters:

Dustin Morse, the Twins director of baseball communications and player relations, said that the babies are doing fine. But they were born five weeks premature, they are the couple’s first children and they [the Twins] decided it would be better if the father remained in the Twin Cities with them and join the team Tuesday when it opens a home series against Kansas City….

So, from Saturday the 27th through Tuesday the 30th, Mauer was moved to the restricted list for three more days of unpaid leave. Players are allowed to be on paternity leave for three days, then have to go on the restricted list if they are away any longer. In all, Mauer’s leave mirrors that of many US dads who cobble together some accumulated paid and unpaid leave to create a small window for themselves to be home after their child is born.

The Minnesota Twins are going beyond the minimum policy for one of their players (I’m sure the fact that Mauer is the “face of the franchise” and the Twins are 11.5 games behind the Tigers and well out of the playoff chase factored into this decision). Even so, good on them!

From the "New Dads" study. Dads don't get (or take) enough paternity leave

From Boston College’s “New Dads” study. Dads don’t get (or take) enough paternity leave

I also recently applauded Yahoo’s newly announced paternity leave policy and the fact that in the UK, new dads, including Prince William, are entitled to two-weeks paid paternity leave. In my opinion, the more visible examples we have of organizations supporting working dads, the better. Culture only changes slowly, over time, because of the accumulation of hundreds of small decisions. MLB’s, Yahoo’s and the UK’s decisions represent small contributions to this culture change.

And change is desperately needed. According to Boston College’s Center for Work and Family’s study of working dads:

  1. Almost none take formal paternity leave

  2. 75% of men take one week or less of accumulated time off (sick, personal, vacation days) after the birth of a child

  3. 16% are unable to take any days off after the birth of a child

Considering that dads’ time with children benefits everyone- kids, moms, dads, families, society- we need more support for working dads. Thanks, MLB!

What do you think about MLB’s Paternity Leave Policy? Any paternity leave stories to share? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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* Tampa Bay Rays first baseman James Loney went on leave last week, and I missed Brian McCann, Daniel Nava and Rafael Soriano (it is getting harder and harder to keep up!) If you hear of any baseball players taking paternity leave, please let me know! I want to keep the list as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

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