MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Challenge of fatherhood rewarding to Zimmerman

Challenge of fatherhood rewarding to Zimmerman

WASHINGTON -- First baseman Ryan Zimmerman has accomplished a lot during his 12 years in the Major Leagues. He has won two Silver Slugger Awards, won a Gold Glove and guided the Nationals to the postseason twice. But Zimmerman's biggest accomplishment in life is raising two daughters: Mackenzie and Hayden, who was born during the first week of June.

The smile on Zimmerman's face is obvious when he talks about his girls. Along with his wife, Heather, Zimmerman is grateful they can give their children a great life in the D.C. area.

"It's exciting … it's challenging, it's hard," Zimmerman said. "But to watch them grow up, to be able to help them -- me and my wife are lucky to be in the situation we are in. [We plan to] give them a great opportunity to have a great life."

Baseball is important and it has given Zimmerman a lot of opportunities off the field. However, having children helps Zimmerman appreciate what his parents went through with him and his brother, Shawn.

"You obviously appreciate your parents, but you really don't have a deep appreciation for them until you kind of go through it and see how hard it is, how much work it takes," Zimmerman said. "But it's very rewarding, but it's a lot of hard work to see your kid grow up and learn how to do things. It's the most rewarding thing that you can have in life."

Mackenzie has an inkling of who her father is, but she gets a bigger kick watching the President's Race and the mascot, Screech, more than watching her father work his magic on the baseball field.

More importantly, though, Zimmerman wants to raise his daughters the right way. It helps he had a father, Keith, who taught him the way.

"There isn't one way to raise a kid. Everyone does things differently," Zimmerman said. "That's one thing my dad taught me. You have to go through it and figure it out. My parents let me and my brother do what we wanted to do as long as we did it the right way. My parents were there to support us in whatever we wanted to do. But if we did something, they wanted to make sure we were committed. We weren't going to do it half way. You have to try to teach them right from wrong. Whatever they are passionate about, it's their life, not yours."

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.