Ryan Dempster won’t make excuses, but he’s had to deal with some personal issues this year as well as trying to get his job done on the field for the Cubs. Dempster’s daughter, Riley, was born prematurely in March. She has a rare form of DiGeorge Syndrome, which, in this instance, means a missing part of a chromosome is creating a condition that disrupts her natural swallowing reflex. It’s difficult for her to keep food down.
Dempster has confided in those close to the team about his daughter’s situation, including the Cubs beat writers, but the story was made public on Sunday in the Chicago Sun-Times. The 2-month-old is hospitalized, with a tracheotomy tube in her throat.
“I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy,” Dempster told the Sun-Times. “I wouldn’t wish the person I hate most in the world to go through that because I wouldn’t wish any little kid to have to go through that.”
He has returned to Chicago as much as possible to be with her, and even gave blood for an operation she needed. He went public to help raise awareness for the condition that often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in infants for lack of a genetic test.
“There’s anger,” Dempster said. “When your daughter’s sitting there in the hospital, and she’s been in there for two months now, there’s an anger inside you because no little kid deserves that. Hopefully, by the end of this month, she’ll be home.
“But it’s like, how do you not let it out? I think that’s why I was having those big innings [during an early stretch of starts], because I’d be cruising along, cruising along, and then all of a sudden I get in a situation where I get frustrated, and then I’d start thinking and getting mad at the wrong things, or getting mad at an umpire not calling a strike.”
— Carrie Muskat