As of the printing date of this article, Major League Baseball player Adam LaRoche was still a member of the Chicago White Sox. He has since left the team.
Adam LaRoche, 36, is a Major League Baseball first baseman and designated hitter for the Chicago White Sox. He’s played for five other teams in his 12-year MLB career, belting 255 homers. Away from the ballpark, Adam is an avid hunter, co-star of the Outdoor Channel’s Buck Commander, rancher, and restaurateur. Editor Bob Welch caught up with LaRoche to find out more about this redneck renaissance man.
We don’t hear a lot about Major League Baseball players and ranching, with Nolan Ryan being the exception. How’d you get into the business?
I wasn’t raised on a ranch, but growing up in southeast Kansas, you’re never far from cattle or crops. During high school, I worked on both a farm and a ranch. I was always more interested in growing cattle over growing crops. Soon after my first land purchase in 2004, I invested in a small herd of Black Angus cows. Then the more I researched the meat industry, the more I realized that our grocery store meat wasn’t as healthy as we all thought. We switched gears and began raising all-natural E3 beef. Originally, the plan was to butcher a few head per year for family and friends. It didn’t take long before we were shipping meat all across the states to our extended family—MLB ballplayers. It just evolved in a short period of time and next thing we knew, we (my wife, Jenn, and I) were making weekly runs to Pittsburg, Kan., which was the closest town that had FedEx.
What do you find most rewarding about ranching?
I would assume you could say this about most guys, but I have always been the hands-on type. I understand and appreciate the ranching environment much more when I am helping with the work, not just giving the orders. And I’d be lying if I acted like I did all the work. I have two awesome hands, who also happen to be two of my closest friends, running the place for me. One is my father-in-law, Loren Readinger. The other is Charlie Madison, a guy I went to school with and have been close friends with for the last 20 years. Both live on the ranch. I think that anything you enjoy doing and have time and sweat invested in, will be rewarding. For me, it’s keeping up with the daily lists of things that need to be done and then getting a call or email from a customer who loves our product.
I’ll bet that area around Fort Scott is full of game and good grazing. Can you describe the ranch for us?
I am in a constant battle with my father-in-law over which land belongs to the cows and which belongs to the deer. We actually joke with each other daily about this topic. I am passionate about bow hunting whitetail, so I’m always trying to preserve some areas for hunting only. Loren couldn’t care less about hunting, so if it were up to him, everything would be put into pasture for the cattle. We always find a way to meet in the middle.
you’re in the thick of the pasture-to-plate movement, sending the finished product from the ranch to your E3 Chophouse in Steamboat Springs, Colo. (owned with brothers Jeff and Andy, country stars Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, and hunter/TV star Willie Robertson). How do you set your product and your restaurant apart in the marketplace?
I really hope there comes a time when we aren’t set apart at all. I think people are becoming more aware of the dangers in the food we and our families are consuming. I’m just honored to play a small role in what I hope to be a change in the USDA’s food standards.
In addition to the restaurant, your partners are also co-stars of the Outdoor Channel’s Buck Commander. hunting is a big part of your life and it can bring some of life’s most memorable moments. Do you have one that stands out?
I’ve been incredibly fortunate with some of the places I’ve been able to hunt, and it seems like the awesome memories just keep stacking up on each other. If I had to pick one, it would be sitting in the stand with both my son, Drake, (13) and daughter, Montana, (12) when they each killed their first deer.
While our readers might be more interested in your ranching and hunting, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about your 12-year MLB career. You’ve had sustained success for a long time. How do you view your career?
On one hand, I would say it has been good, not great. On the other hand, I don’t know of anyone who has looked back on his career and been totally satisfied. One thing I am very proud of, though, is that I don’t feel like I have ever let this game consume me. I always say that baseball is what I do, not who I am. I believe we are all put here to do much more than just go to work, raise a family, then retire.
What do you think you’ve been put here to do?
I believe we are put here to impact others’ lives through the way we live our own. To me, the Bible is very clear when it says, “Love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” I don’t claim to be anywhere near perfect, and that is exactly why Jesus came down (as God in the flesh), was killed, was buried, and rose again—so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. Unfortunately, many Christians believe the only way to do that is to force our beliefs down everyone’s throats. We can spread Christ’s word by simply loving and caring for others, because that’s what He’s done for us.
Finally, the name of your ranch and restaurant is E3. I understand that is baseball shorthand for an error on the first baseman. But you’ve got a Gold Glove (2012) to your credit. Why is that the name you chose?
When I named the ranch E3, I really didn’t think anyone would ever see it other than family and friends. Years ago, a teammate of mine (who happened to be a first baseman) had E3 stitched on all of his gloves, and I always thought it was pretty funny and a really cool looking brand. I stole the idea from him and next thing I know, Luke Bryan is wearing an E3 hat at the CMAs, we start the E3 Meat Company (e3meatco.com), open the E3 Chophouse, and sell E3 coffee. God only knows what’s next, but I look forward to the ride!