While Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle might not be a household name outside of the nation’s capital, the MLB pitcher has a pretty solid resume. He’s spent eight seasons in the big leagues, appeared in two All-Star games, and won a World Series title. Away from the field, he’s also made a bit of a name for himself on social media.
If you’re a Major League Baseball fan following the league’s plans for an attempted restart, you’ve probably heard Doolittle’s thoughts on the subject. Who is this outspoken pitcher? And how has be become a voice of reason on social media?
Sean Doolittle’s Major League Baseball career
If you’ve ever taken a look at Sean Doolittle’s social media accounts, it’s apparent that he’s a man of many talents and interests. By day, though, he’s a professional baseball player.
Doolittle grew up playing youth baseball in New Jersey before taking his talents to the University of Virginia. While he was capable of pitching, the lefty also took the field at first base and showed plenty of ability at the plate; he seemed like a legitimate triple-threat.
The Oakland A’s selected Doolittle in the first round of the 2007 MLB draft. While he started progressing through the minor leagues at first base, things weren’t meant to be. After a series of injuries—as documented by UVA Magazine, he tore a patella tendon, forcing him from the field, and a wrist tendon, making batting impossible—he returned to the mound. That move saved his career.
Doolittle made his big league debut in 2012, becoming the A’s set-up man and left-handed specialist. He also spent some time as Oakland’s closer and earned an All-Star nod in 2014 before moving to Washington via trade in 2017; he made another All-Star appearance in 2018 and helped the Nationals claim the 2019 World Series crown.
Becoming Major League Baseball’s voice of reason
During his time in Major League Baseball, Sean Doolittle hasn’t been shy about sharing his opinion on topics. The current coronavirus pandemic hasn’t changed that reality.
While it’s easy to have conflicting feelings—human lives obviously come first, but every sports fan is clinging to hope that leagues can resume—Doolittle’s stance has been consistent and reasonable. Working toward a baseball season is all well and good, but it has to be done safely and responsibly.
On Sunday, for example, Doolittle quote-tweeted a report that the Washington Nationals hadn’t received their PPE, including masks and gloves. “I don’t know who needs to hear this but I brought these things up because I want to play,” the pitcher wrote on social media. “I want there to be a season. And I want everyone to be as safe as possible. The sooner we figure these things out, the better chance we have to resume the 2020 season.”
Doolittle also made headlines by saying “sports are like the reward of a functioning society” and noting that the United States hadn’t collectively earned that reward yet.
“If there aren’t sports, it’s going to be because people are not wearing masks, because the response to this has been so politicized,” he said, according to Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post. “We need help from the general public. If they want to watch baseball, please wear a mask, social distance, keep washing your hands.”
Ultimately, Sean Doolittle wants you to know he’s a human being
As Chelsea Janes once wrote in the Washington Post, Sean Doolittle isn’t your average Major League pitcher. He’s not someone who makes a Star Wars reference or adopts a particular social cause to appear relatable, though. Beyond his uniform and natural talent, he’s just a human being with his own thoughts and beliefs.
“When I was a kid, I remember my parents would say, ‘Baseball is what you do, but that’s not who you are’ — like that might be my job, but that’s not the end-all, be-all,” Doolittle once told Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “I just like showing people — and this might be at the root of everything that I’ve done — that I don’t want to be looked at as a baseball robot. … It feels weird to say there’s more to me than that, like I’m being overdramatic, and a tear rolls down my cheek. But, no — I do like I feel like there’s more to me than just baseball.”
Given everything that’s unfolded in 2020, more and more professional athletes are using their platform to make a difference in the world. In the Major League Baseball sphere, few voices are more consistent and reasonable than Sean Doolittle’s.