Clay Riggs' Riverdale visit a 'complete surprise'

Clay Riggs' Riverdale visit a 'complete surprise'

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Clay Riggs' Riverdale visit a 'complete surprise'

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MURFREESBORO – Clay Riggs early return Riverdale baseball’s Jones Field after a long hospitalization was essentially on a whim Tuesday night.

Riggs was released last Thursday from Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital after a nearly nine-week stay for two collapsed lungs and a preceding knee injury. Still weak, he had planned to try to see Riverdale plan in person next week, perhaps in the region tournament – where the Warriors had already clinched a berth as the District 7-AAA regular-season champion.

But Clay’s father, Daniel, got a wild hair on Tuesday afternoon: Why not leave the protection of the Riggs’ house and go see a baseball game – one in particular?
“I had a call from my dad and he wanted to know if I wanted to go to the game,” said Clay, a Riverdale pitcher who has missed the entire season while in the hospital. “I was all about it. My mom wasn’t too sure at first, but then she came around and she wanted to come too.”
“It’s great to see him with his teammates right where he belongs,” Clay’s mom said.
Clay’s dad added: “It was so good for him just to see his friends out here again.”
So the whole family – dad Daniel, mom Lisa and little spit-fire brother Jake – secretly planned a trip to Jones’ Field. But they told at least one Riverdale parent, teammate Riley Walters’ mother, who couldn’t hold in her excitement.
“I got a text that he was coming about five minutes before he got here. It was a text from Riley’s mom because they are really good friends with the Riggs family,” Riverdale coach Barry Messer said. “She text me and said, ‘I’m the only one that knows he’s coming, so I just wanted to give you a heads up that he was going to surprise the team.’
“But then he walked into the locker room before I had a chance to do anything.”
Riverdale’s players had spent the afternoon in their indoor hitting facility and clubhouse when Clay popped into the door.
First baseman Brady Puckett said Clay’s impromptu visit brought an additional boost to a team already looking forward to a district tournament game against rival Oakland.
“None of us knew it. It was just a complete surprise, and it was awesome,” Puckett said. “We were in there hitting (in the batting cage) and getting ready for the game and he just showed up. We didn’t know at all that he was coming. We all got real excited. We all hugged him. We were so happy that he was here with us.”
Messer’s Riverdale club beat Oakland 8-2 to advance to Thursday’s District 7-AAA championship game. But he said his team’s joy was already solidified by seeing their teammate walk upright, seemingly healthy, into the Riverdale locker room door.
“He walked in and everybody was obviously elated that he was here,” Messer said. “He gave us a jolt. At this point, we are just so grateful that he’s had the opportunity to come back.”
Despite already knowing Clay was on his way a few minutes before he walked in still admitted he was taken back by the sight of his arrival and his team’s reaction.
Clay clowned around with his teammates before the game and even showed them some of the scars from his multiple surgeries. He spoke to the team on the field before the first pitch and then sat in the dugout for all seven innings of the victory.
Clay’s mother, Lisa, cautiously said before the game that he might have to leave at the midway point if he didn’t feel well. But there was no chance of this Riverdale right-hander leaving before his outing was complete.
“I’m a whole lot better than I was in the hospital. I’m getting where I can breathe better and get around better,” Clay said. “I’m not full back, but I’m getting closer. I get to walk around and see people now. I’ll be back.”

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