Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley is seeking guardianship of the grandson his homeless and troubled daughter delivered Christmas night in a tent in New Hampshire.
The baseball great and his wife released a statement Friday expressing their sorrow for Alexandra Eckersley and their intention to seek custody of the newborn. The baby was found alive Monday morning in a tent in the woods near Manchester despite freezing temperatures and his mother was arrested.
“We are utterly devastated by the events that unfolded on Christmas night when our daughter Allie delivered a baby while living in a tent,” read the statement released to WCVB-Boston. “It is heartbreaking that a child was born under such unthinkable conditions and in such tragic circumstances. We learned with everyone else from news reports what happened and are still in complete shock. We had no prior knowledge of Allie’s pregnancy.”
Eckersley, 26, called 911 early Monday to say she had given birth, then initially refused to tell responders where the baby was. The woman, who police say was on drugs, finally took them to the tent, where the baby boy was found alive on a pile of blood-soaked sheets despite freezing temperatures. Eckersley, who has a prior drug conviction, was charged with second-degree assault/extreme indifference and falsifying physical evidence charges, as well as misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct and endangering the welfare of a child, according to Patch.com.
The baby, which weighed 4.4 pounds and is believed to have been born three months prematurely, was taken to a nearby hospital.
Dennis Eckersley, 68, was one of the greatest relief pitchers in Major League Baseball history and later served as a Boston Red Sox radio broadcaster. He pitched from 1975-1998, racking up 197 wins and 390 saves. He won the American League’s Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards in 1992 after saving 51 games for the Oakland A’s.
In the statement, the former star said he and his wife had adopted Alexandra at birth and that she had been troubled all her life.
“Though it is painful to share, we feel it necessary to offer greater context of Allie’s circumstances and background,” read the statement. “Allie has suffered from severe mental illness her entire life. Allie was hospitalized numerous times for her illness and lived in several residential programs. We did our very best to get Allie all of the help and support humanly possible.”
The heartbroken family said that once Alexandra became an adult, she could not be forced into treatment for drugs and mental illness and that she had chosen to live on the streets of New Hampshire for the last six years.
“We have always offered Allie a path home but she has made other choices,” the statement said. “We hope Allie now accepts the treatment she desperately needs for her mental health issues. We also hope that all those who have heard this tragic story withhold judgment about our daughter until all the facts come out.”
The family said it is in the process of filing a guardianship petition so that it can look after the infant.
“We thank you for your support and prayers for this beautiful, innocent baby boy,” the statement concluded. “We hope people understand what an agonizing situation this is and we respectfully ask for privacy.”