A.J. Ellis celebrates a game-winning hit with Clayton Kershaw. (Harry How / Getty Images )
Not even a month in, and catcher A.J. Ellis has had himself what you might call an interesting off-season.
There was knee surgery all but kept secret until after it was over. There was his debut as a daily guest columnist for The Times during the World Series. And, oh yeah, there was his wife, Cindy, giving birth to their third child ... in the front seat of a car speeding down a Wisconsin highway at 75 mph.
Ellis was with the Dodgers when his first two children, Ainsley, 4, and Luke, 2, were born. Although he watched Luke’s birth via streaming video on a computer, chances are he’ll have a stronger memory of this third birth.
Ellis said his wife awoke on the morning of Oct. 12 and informed him that her water had broken. They packed and jumped in the car for the 30-minute drive to the hospital, with Ellis behind the wheel.
“I was pretty calm,” Ellis said. “I felt more pressure writing under deadline.”
When his wife’s pain quickly increased, Ellis just figured it was normal. She’d had lengthy labor with her first two children.
“It was the first time I’d been through the whole procedure,” he said. “I just figured we’d get to the hospital, she’d push for a couple hours, the baby would come and she’ll be fine. I thought everything was normal. I was just trying to be calm and supportive.
“She asked me how far we had to go and I said 18 miles. She said, `We’re not going to make it.’ I asked her how she knew that and she said, `I can feel the head.’ ”
Cindy turned around in the front seat of the Camry, faced the back window and gave birth to Audrey Elizabeth Ellis. There wasn’t even time to pull over on the side of Interstate 43.
“I was halfway between cursing God and praising him,” Ellis said. “We had a pretty good conversation the rest of the way to the hospital. I was making deals.”
Cindy held her two-week-early baby and a shaken Ellis sped the rest of the way to a Milwaukee hospital.
“We got to the hospital at 8:28 and by 9 o’clock I’m holding Audrey in the recovery room with 'SportsCenter' on,” he said. “I looked at Cindy and said, `You know, an hour ago you just had a baby – in a car.’ ”
Because of his knee surgery, he was having trouble getting in and out of his compact and had borrowed his father-in-law’s car. At some point he thought of the aftermath the birth left in the front seat.
“I think some of the hospital staff was kind enough to go out to the car and use some industrial-strength sponges,” he said.
Ellis said it was a learning experience like no other.
“One of the lessons I learned was, don’t pick a hospital 30 minutes away. And the other was, when the contractions are really close, that means the baby is coming.”
He does, however, have one regret from his unique experience, first reported by Molly Knight of ESPN.
“I feel bad,” he said. “Some day Audrey will ask where she was born, and I’ll say somewhere between mile marker 41 and 42.”
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