A relief for the Proctors

A relief for the Proctors

Being a baseball wife isn't easy. Just ask Carrie Proctor.

Throw in two kids, and the equation doesn't get any simpler. Add in a life-threatening surgery for your newborn daughter, and things get really complicated.

But Carrie, wife of Yankees reliever Scott Proctor, is taking it all in stride. In fact, she believes that the events of the past two months have made her a stronger person.

"You have no idea what the next day is going to bring," Carrie said. "So I've learned to fly by the seat of my pants."

As promising as Scott's season has been on the field, the 2006 campaign didn't start on a high note for his family.

Scott and Carrie's daughter, Mary Elizabeth (they call her M.E.), was born on March 8 with a heart murmur, but doctors didn't seem too concerned about the condition.

When Carrie took M.E. for a checkup in late March, doctors found that M.E. had an interrupted aortic arch, which is a rare heart defect that occurs when the aorta doesn't develop fully in the womb.

Surgery was performed on March 31 in Miami, as Scott was given permission to join his family while the Yankees traveled to the West Coast to play two exhibition games in Arizona before starting the season.

"When I got the first phone call from Carrie before M.E. was going into surgery," Scott said, "you could tell she was distraught."

"I was so relieved that he was home," Carrie said. "I don't think I would have gotten through it without him."

The surgery was successful, but Scott wasn't quite ready to leave Carrie to join the team out west. The Yankees told the pitcher to take as much time as he needed, but Scott's status as a young pitcher and his feeling of responsibility to his team wouldn't allow him to stay in Florida for long.

He decided that he would head to California as soon as Carrie was able to handle the situation on her own -- though he wasn't sure when that would be the case.

"The team told me I could take as much time as I needed, but I felt like I needed to get back," Scott said. "I wasn't leaving until she told me, 'I can handle it.' When she did that, I felt like I could go back and focus on my job again. I'm not saying it was easy, but it was easier."

Scott left for Oakland on the day that M.E. was taken off a breathing machine, giving him an opportunity to hold her before he departed.

"I reassured him that I would be OK," Carrie said. "All of our parents were here, so I felt OK with him going. The surgeon had told us to look at everything in steps; get through the surgery, then get the breathing tubes out. I was relieved to know that he could see her that way and hold her, to know she was getting better."

"I can't imagine what she was going through," Scott said. "It's one thing for a father to have a child going through something like this, but the mother has a different connection. To see this little girl, who spent nine months in her body, hooked up to all that stuff, she's a strong woman."

Even before M.E.'s arrival, Carrie had to learn first-hand what life as a baseball player's wife was all about.

Scott and Carrie were high school sweethearts, starting their relationship in 1993. They moved on to Florida State University together, getting engaged on Christmas Eve 1995.

Three years later, they got married, just six months after he was drafted by the Dodgers in the fifth round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft. Carrie worked as a teacher during the school year, joining him during the summer as Scott began his quest to reach the Majors.

Scott was traded to the Yankees at the 2003 trade deadline, spending the remainder of the season with Triple-A Columbus. That October, the couple welcomed their first child, Camden (yes, he's named after Camden Yards) into the world.

During those years, Scott often questioned his decision to pursue a baseball career. A regular job would mean being home with his wife, and now his son. A regular job would mean spending time with the ones he loved the most, not with a bunch of guys on a bus.

"It's so nice to have him here," Carrie said. "But he's also providing for our family. It's a toss up. Whenever he gets to come home for an off day, it's bittersweet. You want him around, but when he goes away, you're sad to think of what you could have if he had a normal job."

In 2004, Scott made it to the Majors, getting called up by the Yankees on April 18. He had three stints with New York, appearing in 26 games. With Camden still less than a year old, Carrie had her hands full, but she learned to adapt.

"I had to be on my own more," she said. "I had to deal with most life situations by myself for the most part. You talk to him on the phone, but it's not the same."

The 2005 season was much of the same, as Scott split time between New York and Columbus. Alone in New York with Camden, Carrie found herself doing things that neither she nor her husband ever thought she would do.

"The biggest thing I learned about Carrie was how determined she is," Scott said. "When we were growing up, if you would have told me she would be navigating New York City on the subway by herself with a one-year-old boy, I'd have said you were crazy."

"He's right," she said. "I'm from Jensen Beach, Fla. For me to be riding the subways alone in New York City, I never thought that would be me."

Of course, navigating the No. 4 train was nothing compared to the ordeal that Carrie and Scott went through this spring. M.E.'s surgery was a wakeup call for their entire family, and to them, they have all come out of it stronger than ever.

"As it progressed and M.E. took steps in the right direction, you could see that she was more at ease, more in control," Scott said of his wife. "She's coping with the different changes. She's definitely a lot stronger than I thought she was. She's handled it much better than I thought she would."

"The whole baseball life has made me a stronger person," Carrie said. "I used to be the biggest wimp; I didn't like staying by myself when Scott was away. But in the past two months, I've learned more patience while dealing with a 2 1/2-year-old who is still adjusting to having a little sister.

"It shows you how precious and dear life really is," she added. "You think having children is going to be easy -- until you actually have them."

Carrie couldn't be happier for Scott and the success he has had this season, as he has carved out a spot for himself in the Yankees' bullpen.

"He's definitely proving himself," Carrie said. "It was such a long road to get there, being drafted in 1998, so for him to be getting an opportunity to be in the big leagues, it's incredible."

Facing hitters such as Manny Ramirez, Mark Teixeira and Vladimir Guerrero is no easy task. But ask Scott whether he would rather have his job or his wife's, and he'll give Carrie the nod. After all, a baseball game lasts three or four hours, but motherhood is a 24-hour-a-day responsibility.

"My wife doesn't give herself enough credit as she deserves," Scott said. "When your wife tells you what she has to deal with every day, it's one thing. When you go home and see it, you see her juggling a two-year-old who is a terror at times, then a newborn with special needs on top of that -- it amazes me. I go home for one day and I'm ready to go back to New York.

"She flat-out amazes me," he added. "She's a great mom. I really hit the jackpot."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.