G.K. Young, only seconds old, was laid on a table in that delivery room, blue in the face.
Instead of cradling her first child, Ann Young had to watch as doctors scrambled to cut the umbilical cord that just might cause an unspeakable tragedy.
George King Young came into the world with long odds on Oct. 17, 1994, and the first baseman for the TinCaps has been overcoming them ever since, never having to look far for inspiration, an unbreakable bond forged with his mother.
She delivered him after 12 hours of labor, the child weighing in at 9 pounds and a half-ounce and checking in at 21 inches long, only for doctors to tell her he might never have a normal life – or have control of his right arm.
“I was in shock,” Ann said. “He was not breathing. It was scary for a while. I was scared that he was not going to live.”
Unknown in pregnancy, she had gestational diabetes, which led to G.K.'s size at birth, and doctors had to break his right shoulder to safely deliver him, then free his neck of the cord.
“The doctors telling (them) there was a slim chance I was going to have any brain function lets me know in my heart that I have a God above who cares for me,” G.K. said.
The family, which resides in Conway, South Carolina, remained at Conway Medical Center for five days, but it was about two months before Ann felt recovered physically and emotionally from the ordeal.
Fortunately, her infant was less than 5 days old when he began to move his right arm. It wasn't long before he would walk and talk – “everything ahead of schedule,” Ann said.
G.K.'s first word was “ball.”
“It's like he was destined to play baseball,” Ann said. “He was a very active baby, always moving and bouncing.”
G.K. was also destined to be a momma's boy, which he is, unapologetically.
“I think my mom and I share a very close relationship because of the time – I may not remember it – spent getting me out into this world,” G.K. said. “I'm very thankful she didn't give up on having me.”
Since G.K. played college ball near home at Coastal Carolina, this, his first full year as a professional, is the first time he cannot be with Ann on Mother's Day.
They'll speak today on a phone call, as they do three or four times a week. Each day when G.K. wakes up, he checks his cellphone to find a text message from his mom.
“I am very proud of him,” Ann said. “He's a good man. I miss him a lot. I know he's doing what he's meant to do.”
Sports, of course.
Ann sat on a couch and held young G.K. up to dunk a basketball into a Little Tikes hoop. All afternoon, he would play whiffle ball in the yard.
“He would cry when he had to come in the house, and he was probably 3 doing that,” Ann said. “I can remember my uncle telling me when G.K. was 2 or 3 he was going to be a really good player one day.”
Sure enough, there he was, mashing a home run the day that Coastal Carolina won the College World Series last summer. Ann had been in the stands at the CWS, her nerves “torn to pieces.”
G.K. thanks his mom and his father, King, for investing the time and money to play on travel teams, each weekend of each summer from age 12.
“She's pushed me to chase my dreams,” G.K. said. “There has never been a time she's told me I need to stop doing this or that. They never said anything about not being able to financially. If it cost our house for me to play baseball, our house was going to go.”
To G.K. and his brothers, Jordan and Brett, and sister, Anna-Grace, Ann has been everything they could want.
“Very passionate,” G.K. said, “and loves her children very much.”
She nourished G.K.'s mind by taking his phone to force him to do homework, and from her he learned to be respectful.
“She's always reminded me you never know what little boy or girl you're going to influence,” G.K. said. “I've kept that in my head.”
Of course, it all comes back to G.K.'s first day on Earth. A tear falls down his right cheek as he recalls the circumstances.
Ann, who G.K. said is 5-foot-5, usually weighs only 125 pounds. When she settled into a hospital bed more than 22 years ago, she had gained about 70 pounds in pregnancy.
“She's really little,” G.K. said. “I'm really broad and wide-shouldered, so labor for 12 hours is unbelievable she fought like she did to have me.
“Every time I think about it I feel like crying because I guess where I get my drive and my fight from is my mom.”