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UNDATED (AP) -- When New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy was criticized on talk radio for spending three days with his family after the birth of his son, teammates, coaches and opponents leapt to his defense.

The four major pro sports leagues in North America are becoming increasingly open to paternity leave as more players express a desire to be with their families when a baby arrives.

Major League Baseball is the only league with a standardized policy written into its rulebook. But the NFL, NBA and NHL have all shown willingness to give their players some time when that day comes.

Players say that kind of compassion is a welcome change from decades ago, when athletes often missed one of life's biggest moments to stay with their teams.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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