Nationals Pitcher Daniel Hudson Criticized for Taking Paternity Leave During MLB Playoffs

Alexis Ohanian, fellow pitcher Sean Doolittle and more came out in support of Daniel Hudson, who missed Game 1 to witness the birth of his daughter

Daniel Hudson
Photo: Mitchell Layton/Getty

It’s family first for Daniel Hudson.

The Washington Nationals pitcher, 32, was notably absent for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Friday. Multiple outlets report that the athlete went home to Arizona to witness the birth of his third daughter, Millie, with wife Sara, before hopping on an early-morning flight Saturday to play in Game 2 in St. Louis.

Hudson’s move drew various reactions, with most being overwhelmingly supportive — like one from parental-leave advocate Alexis Ohanian, who praised Hudson on Instagram, “Boss moves by Daniel Hudson missing Game 1 of the #NLCS for #paternityleave to be there for the birth of his daughter. I’m buying his jersey right now.”

But some didn’t quite see it that way. Former Miami Marlins president David Samson tweeted, “Unreal that Daniel Hudson is on 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.”

Aside from Ohanian, 36, many others jumped to Hudson’s defense. In one reply to Samson’s tweet, a woman named Jill asked, “So, you’re saying his wife should be able to handle childbirth, alone, without her husband there, but his team of 40 guys can’t handle one playoff baseball game? In 2019, this is really what you’re saying?”

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“I would miss game 7 of the World Series for the birth of my baby,” another fan tweeted, while a third said, “Birth of a baby is a good reason to miss a game. For some, it’s the only child they could ever have. Life is short, live it!”

Hudson’s fellow Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle told reporters, “If your reaction to someone having a baby is anything other than, ‘Congratulations, I hope everybody’s healthy,’ you’re an a—hole,” according to multiple outlets including USA Today. “As important as our careers are to us as players, nothing is more important to us than our families. Our careers will end someday, but family is forever.”

The Nationals ended up winning Game 1 without Hudson, earning a score of 2 to 0 over the St. Louis Cardinals — and furthermore, the new dad of three played a big role in clinching his team’s Game 2 victory on Saturday, pitching the final outs that led them to a 3-1 win.

Samson followed up with another tweet after Game 2 to clarify his remarks, writing in part, “I didn’t say [Hudson] should miss the birth, & didn’t mean to judge his decision. I would have done everything possible to try to get him to St. Louis for game 1 of #NLCS, once health of baby & mom had been established. Respect his decision.”

Daniel Hudson
Daniel Hudson (L) and wife Sara. Jerritt Clark/Getty

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After the team’s Game 1 win, Nationals general manager and president of baseball operations Mike Rizzo told USA TODAY Sports regarding Hudson’s absence, “It’s all about family, man. We said, ‘You have to take care of your family — that’s a No. 1 priority, and you do what you have to do.’ No second thoughts about that, by any means.”

“Needless to say, my oldest was pretty excited to meet her new baby sister yesterday,” Hudson said Saturday ahead of Game 2, according to USA Today. “To be able to have that experience with my family and be there for the whole thing was everything I could have imagined.”

“Top-three things in my life — 1A, 1B and 1C — are being there for the birth of all three of my daughters,” he added. “The organization was awesome for [letting] me be a part of that.”

The Nationals are currently sitting at 3-0 against the Cardinals, meaning one more win will send them to the 2019 World Series. The teams will next square off in Game 4 on Tuesday night in Washington, D.C.

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