Devil Ray performs under pressure

By Marc Topkin
Published February 17, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Infielder Ty Wigginton came through with a lot of big hits for the Devil Rays last season. But that was nothing like the way he delivered during the offseason.

When his wife, Angela, went into intense labor two weeks early, Ty ended up delivering their son in the bedroom closet of their new North Carolina home.

"He was out in less than a minute," Ty said Friday. "One or two pushes, and he was ready to see the world."

The baby was healthy. The delivery, given the circumstances, was smooth. But it was not without drama. And some chaos.

Angela lying on the floor of the walk-in closet. Their 3-year-old son, Chase, sick and scared, locked in the adjacent bedroom, screaming, "Is Mommy o-tay?" Ty getting step-by-step instructions from a 911 operator, then having to give Angela the phone so he could have both hands free to tie the umbilical cord with a lace he took out of his shoe.

"I think adrenaline took over. It's kind of all a blur," Ty said. "It was unbelievable."

"It was one of those things," Angela said. "I certainly never expected to have a baby in the master bedroom closet of my house."

The unforgettable episode started around 3:45 the morning of Dec. 20, when Angela woke with contractions about seven minutes apart. "I asked her, 'Do we need to go?' and she says, 'We're all right,' " Ty said.

A couple of hours of more intense contractions later, Angela - who went through a 14-hour labor with Chase - changed her mind. She began getting ready for a trip to the hospital, though expecting the doctors would simply send them home. Ty was already up with Chase, giving him medicine for a flu that had him vomiting and preparing to drop him off at Angela's parents' house.

"About 6 o'clock she's in the closet trying to get dressed, and I'm getting our son ready to go out the door and she yells, 'We're having this baby now,' " Ty said.

"I think she's kidding. Then I come around the corner and, sure enough. ... I called 911 and told them to get somebody over there. And like a minute later, I'm holding the baby in my arms."

It took about 10 more minutes for the paramedics to get there, though Ty said it seemed like an hour. Not that he had time to get too worried.

"The baby came out and he looked great," Ty said. "The scary part was that he never really cried until the EMTs got there, but he was breathing. His tongue was moving in and out of his mouth. I could feel his heart beating. They just told me to keep wiping his nose and mouth and keep him wrapped in a towel."

The baby weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces, measured 18 inches and seemed a perfect fit for the name they had already picked out: Cannon.

"He dropped just like a cannonball," Ty said.

Ty, 29, has had no medical training, unless you count the shows he has watched on TV. "I love Untold Stories of the ER," he said. "So maybe now we can have Untold Stories of the Closet."

Angela said the experience went as well as it possibly could. "He did great," she said. "He acted like it was his job."

"Actually," Ty said, "she was the bigger hero."

Ty, one of the Rays' most productive players last season, said he plans to stick to baseball. But he said they learned something from the experience.

"Next time, if she even sneezes or coughs, we're going to the hospital," Ty said. "I don't care if she is only two weeks pregnant."