During a surprise statement Tuesday, Fort Scott graduate and resident Adam LaRoche announced his intentions to retire from Major League Baseball after 12 seasons of playing.
The first baseman and designated hitter signed a two-year contract with the Chicago White Sox during the 2014 off-season, but told his coaches and fellow players Tuesday, with just over two weeks before the 2016 season starts, that he intends to retire from the game, citing personal reasons. By voiding the contract, he would walk away from the contract’s remaining $13 million promised him for the 2016 season.
He did agree to give it one more day before confirming the decision, though players and coaches were quoted in other articles as saying he seemed confident in his decision. In a post on Twitter, LaRoche, 36, said, “Thank u Lord for the game of baseball and for giving me way more than I ever deserved! #FamilyFirst.”
“We’ve always known this was a high-character guy,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was quoted as saying in an MLB article published Tuesday. “And if this is the end, then this is a guy who had a very solid, extensive big-league career and, in the end, was playing this game for the right reasons and not strictly the economic ones.”
A follow-up MLB article published Wednesday stated LaRoche signed retirement papers, though the club had not yet sent them to the league office, granting him a little more time to decide. That article said LaRoche decided to retire when the club requested that his son Drake, 14, not spend as much time with him and the team as he had in past years.
Drake had become known as the 26th man on the team, having his own locker at the ball field and being a constant presence with the team during practices and games. The White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams, who made the request, said the club did not wish to set such a precedent, though adding the team was fond of the teenager.
Other MLB players such as Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals expressed support for his family-focused decision on Twitter.
LaRoche has a career batting average of .260 with a total of 255 home runs over 12 seasons with teams such as the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals and the Chicago White Sox. His average statistics dipped during the 2015 season when he batted just .207 with 12 home runs, both his lowest in the majors other than an abbreviated 2011 season that ended when he had shoulder surgery.
LaRoche played in just two spring training games this month as back spasms during the first week of March forced him to rest.
LaRoche and his wife Jennifer and children Montana and Drake are Bourbon County residents at the E3 Ranch and active members of the community, such as by investing in the LaRoche Baseball Complex. LaRoche is also a co-owner of the hunting show “Buck Commander” along with other athletes and celebrities.