MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — A 45-year-old New Hampshire man will spend at least a year in jail for endangering the life of a newborn baby, after MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley’s daughter gave birth in the woods last year during subfreezing temperatures.
George Theberge was sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor child endangerment charge, having reached a deal with prosecutors, plus an additional six months behind bars for a probation violation stemming from his arrest in January and a drug charge.
The baby boy was left alone in a tent for more than an hour on Dec. 26 as the temperature dipped to 15 degrees (minus 9.4 degrees Celsius), authorities said.
A police affidavit referred to Theberge as the boyfriend of the baby’s mother, Alexandra Eckersley, 26, who is accused of abandoning her son without heat or proper clothing. She pleaded not guilty to charges of assault, reckless conduct, and other counts, and was released on bail. She awaits trial next year.
Eckersley’s lawyer said her client didn’t know she was pregnant, gave birth alone, called 911, and led police to the baby. She said Eckersley suffered medical complications. Since then, she said Eckersley has finished rehabilitation programs, is sober, and sees her son on regular visits.
The Eckersley family released a statement at the time of her arrest saying they had no prior knowledge of Alexandra’s pregnancy. They said she has suffered from “severe mental illness her entire life” and did their very best to get her help and support.
Dennis Eckersley was drafted by Cleveland as a California high schooler in 1972, went on to pitch 24 seasons as both a 20-win starter and a 50-save reliever for Cleveland, Boston, the Cubs, Oakland and the Cardinals. He won the AL Cy Young and MVP awards in 1992 while playing for the Oakland Athletics. Eckersley retired last year from broadcasting Boston Red Sox games.