Nationals player Daniel Hudson faces criticism for missing playoff game for daughter's birth

PHOTO:Daniel Hudson #44 of the Washington Nationals delivers in the ninth inning of game four of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park on Oct. 7, 2019 in Washington, D.C.PlayRob Carr/Getty Images, FILE
WATCH Alexis Ohanian has a message for dads: Fight for paid paternity leave (and take it)

A Major League Baseball star found himself in the middle of a parenting and family values debate after skipping a crucial playoff game to be present for his daughter's birth.

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Washington Nationals star Daniel Hudson was in a hospital room in Arizona when his team beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 in the first game of the National League Championship Series (NLCS) Friday night.

The 32-year-old player's wife had just given birth to their third child, a daughter they named Millie.

Hudson quickly found himself in a controversy by simply making the decision to be with his family as they welcomed their newest member.

PHOTO:Daniel Hudson #44 of the Washington Nationals delivers in the ninth inning of game four of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park on Oct. 7, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Rob Carr/Getty Images, FILE
PHOTO:Daniel Hudson #44 of the Washington Nationals delivers in the ninth inning of game four of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park on Oct. 7, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

"I knew I was going to go no matter what," Hudson said Saturday, according to ESPN. "I didn't know that this was a new thing, to have a playoff paternity leave list. I had no idea."

"I was like, 'I can't be the only person to have a baby in the middle of the postseason,' and for it to blow up like it did, man, it's kind of crazy," he added. "But I didn't really give much thought about not going. My family is top priority for me."

Some people criticized Hudson on social media for missing such an important game, including one former baseball official who tweeted, "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?”

Other were quick to dispute that a game was more important than a life-changing personal moment.

"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? Some lady must be lucky to have you!," a Twitter user in response.

Hudson, who joined the Nationals this summer, said he had the team's full support to attend his daughter's birth. He used the phrase "life comes at you fast" to describe facing criticisms for choosing family over his career.

"I went from not having a job on March 21 to this huge national conversation on family values going into the playoffs," he said, according to ESPN. "Life comes at you fast, man. I don't know how that happened and how I became the face for whatever conversation was going on. Everybody's got their opinions, man, and I really value my family and my family time."

Hudson's paternity leave was short-lived anyways. He was activated off the paternity list before game two of the series on Saturday and helped the Nationals notch a 3-1 win.

Hudson's decision to take at least some time away from his professional life to be with his newborn daughter and wife earned praise from Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, husband of Serena Williams and vocal advocate for paternity leave.

Ohanian posted on Instagram that he is "buying [Hudson's] jersey right now."

Ohanian was very public about the fact that he took 16 weeks of paternity leave when daughter Olympia was born in 2017 and has since encouraged other dads, especially ones in high-profile positions, to take leave to in order to set an example.

"Use me as air cover. I took my full 16 weeks," he told "Good Morning America" earlier this year. "I wanted people to see that you could care deeply about your industry, have a tremendous passion for the work that you do but also still be able to say that you care deeply about your family and want to take this time."

In the U.S., only 16% of civilian workers have access to paid family leave and 88% have access to unpaid family leave, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The U.S. is the only advanced industrialized nation without a guarantee of paid leave for new parents, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The median length of paternity leave for dads in the U.S. is one week, according to Pew Research Center data.