New birth to rivalry

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

A week and a half before the annual classic, Brett Ralph had his own labour day to deal with.

At least this time, the Calgary Stampeders receiver gained a sure victory out of it.

Ralph's wife, Kaylee, gave birth to a 6-lb. 9-oz. baby boy Thursday, the day the Stamps returned from a 10-day road trip through Montreal and Toronto.

Ralph, a 23-year-old Raymond, Alta., native, almost missed one of the most important days of his life, the circumstances of which he'll never forget.

"For the week when I was in Eastern Canada, for that many days in a row, I was worried I would have to jump on a plane and rush home," said the proud new papa yesterday of Houston James Ralph. "I was nervous I would get back and (the baby) would already be delivered by the time I got home.

"It timed out perfect. I got back Thursday and I drove home to get her. She was at her parents for the week.

"We didn't make it back. We had the baby down in Lethbridge. It was a pretty special experience."

The timing is also perfect for the Ralph family. Brett's brother Brock was released by the New York Jets on the weekend and has returned to the Edmonton Eskimos.

Brock will make the trip to Calgary for the Labour Day Classic Monday at McMahon Stadium. At the same time, he'll get to see his new nephew.

"I'm mixed about being back up here but there's still a lot of things for me to get excited about," Brock said. "I'm sure we'll talk after games and I'm sure the guy who will be (striking up the conversation) will be the guy who came out on top."

While Brett is anxious to see his brother, he's disappointed Brock's NFL dream has been cut short. Brett admits he cares more about his brothers' fortunes than he does his own.

And the new dad isn't all that excited the Eskimos just added a receiver who caught 49 passes for 634 yards a season ago.

The Stamps play their provincial rivals twice in six days starting Monday and it's the first time the brothers will have faced each other in a competitive game. They played together in high school at Raymond and a year at the University of Wyoming.

"I was hoping the Jets would wait a couple more weeks," Brett said with a chuckle. "I was hoping he never came back, actually.

"When you're in the same league, you play each team at least once. I'm glad I don't have to face him on offence while I was on defence or something like that.

"I don't know what I would do if I had to face him. I'm hopeful he does well against us but I'm hopeful we win."

Even before Brock came back to the Eskimos, Brett fielded an avalanche of ticket requests from friends and family. The annual classic is a tough ticket to get but Brett will scramble to accommodate everybody.

After the contest, Brett and Brock can stand arm-in-arm for photos in their opposing uniforms, a first for the athletic family.

"I've never thought about that," Brett said.

"It's a special game. It's neat that we're in the same province and these are the two teams we grew up watching."

The Classic will also likely be one Houston's first times out and his father and uncle will surely recant those days years later when the youngster is playing football.

"We're going to break him in for the Labour Day game," Brett said.


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