Daniel Murphy is proud he put fatherhood ahead of baseball, after the New York Mets second baseman was criticised for taking paternity leave and missing two MLB games.
Murphy made his season debut in Thursday’s 8-2 loss to Washington, three days after the birth of son Noah.
He called staying in Florida an extra day “the right decision to make” following wife Victoria’s cesarean section and said “we felt the best thing for our family was for me to stay.”
He learned on Sunday his wife’s water broke, then travelled to Florida and missed Monday’s 9-7 opening loss to Washington and Wednesday night’s 5-1 defeat. He said his son was born at 12:02pm Monday.
Major league rules allow up to three days of paternity leave, and WFAN broadcaster Mike Francesa said on the air on Wednesday that Murphy should not have skipped the second game.
“One day I understand. And in the old days they didn’t do that,” Francesa said.
“But one day, go see the baby be born and come back. You’re a Major League Baseball player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help.”
Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason also was critical during his show on WFAN.
“Quite frankly, I would have said C-section before the season starts. I need to be at opening day, I’m sorry,” he said.
“This is what makes our money. This is how we’re going to live our life. This is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life. I’ll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I’m a baseball player.”
A day later, Mets manager Terry Collins bristled after learning of the comments.
“If you’re accusing Dan Murphy of not wanting to play – this guy played 161 games last year, wore himself out, played through all sorts of discomfort,” he said.
“You know, the man had his first child. He’s allowed to be there. The rules state that he can be there, so he went. There’s nothing against it. There’s nothing wrong with it.
“When you start attacking Dan Murphy’s credibility, you need to look in the mirror a little bit.”
Murphy said he received text messages about the criticism. He was applauded before his first at-bat, singled and scored the Mets’ first run against the Nationals.
Minnesota Twins left-hander Brian Duensing also returned on Thursday after three days on the paternity leave list, and Tampa Bay put outfielder Sean Rodriguez on the list.
Murphy said he was happy to hear about people who backed his choice to spend time with his wife.
“I appreciate it, anyone who supports me,” he said.
“My wife and I, we made a decision, and we were excited about it.”