WASHINGTON — A few months after telling the Chicago White Sox that he would rather retire than comply with demands to remove his son from the team clubhouse, former Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche is back on the baseball diamond.
It just isn’t what you might expect.
LaRoche is one of the driving forces behind a team of former Major League All-Stars, all well past their primes, assembled to compete in the upcoming National Baseball Congress World Series. Even before LaRoche hung up his cleats, he worked with fellow former big leaguer Nate Robertson to recruit a fearsome squad from the early to mid-2000s.
“I put out a feeler, a text message, and I was blown away at the response,” LaRoche told The Wichita Eagle. “And I mean, right away, guys responding and were really excited about it, wanting more and more information. I think something about being out of the game, whether it’s for a couple months or a couple years, not having that competition is what guys so excited to get back out and play the game.”
“I think something about being out of the game, whether it’s for a couple months or a couple years, not having that competition is what guys so excited to get back out and play the game.”
Some of the other names included on the list: Roger Clemens, Josh Beckett, Tim Hudson, Roy Oswalt, J.D. Drew, Dan Uggla, Ben Sheets, Jack Wilson, Rick Ankiel, Brad Penny, Adam Everett and Brandon Inge. LaRoche and Hudson each played as recently as last year.
Five of the starting pitchers have each won 100 Major League games in his career, but they seem to be taking a realistic approach, given the injuries and wear and tear at their point in their lives.
“We’re kind of getting guys prepped to go three innings, max,” Robertson said. “I’ve heard Roger [Clemens] is going to come in here and try to throw five. I guess he’s still a machine.
“These guys wouldn’t sign up if they were going to go out and embarrass themselves, so I think their bodies are capable.”
This is a great opportunity for LaRoche to get back out on the baseball diamond after leaving the game with a bitter taste in his mouth. The son of a Major Leaguer himself, LaRoche grew up in baseball clubhouses with his brother Andy. He shared that same experience with his son, Drake, during his time with the Washington Nationals and Chicago White Sox.
After Chicago team President Kenny Williams made the controversial decision to insist Drake not visit the clubhouse any longer, LaRoche left $13 million on the table to retire a season early.
The squad he helped assemble will put their talent to the test in a tournament comprised primarily of summer collegiate teams. The Wichita Eagle reports that The Stars, as they’re being called, play their first game on Aug. 6 at 9:30 p.m. If their experience can keep pace with their age, a championship round could follow.
If the team wins, players have agreed to donate any winnings to charity.
“I picture this being more of a backyard, group-of-guys get-together to go have a lot of fun and compete,” LaRoche said. “Kind of bring back that feeling that we all had in high school and college and the minor leagues, when everybody is truly pulling in the same direction and pulling for each other and, win or lose, just enjoying it and having a good time.”