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'Little Ben' born to be Steeler fan

| Saturday, June 17, 2006

Daddy Jeffrey can't wait to take Little Ben to see Big Ben play football.

Jeffrey Leonard, of Carroll Township, is a long-time Pittsburgh Steelers football fan; Little Ben was born into it.

Jeffrey and his wife, Dawn, were expecting their first child in January as the Super Bowl approached.

Due to medical problems, Dawn entered Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh a little earlier.

In fact, it was Jan. 22 - the same day the Steelers were playing the Denver Broncos for the AFC championship.

"They gave me Room 7 and we were watching the game," Dawn said. "The medical staff had attempted to induce labor, but it wasn't working. During the first quarter they took me to the operating room to perform a C-section. We were back in the room before half-time."

The couple didn't know the sex of the baby until it was born.

"If God meant it to be, He would have put a window in my belly," the new mother quipped. "We wanted to enjoy the surprise when the baby arrived."

The couple had actually chosen a girl's name in advance, but hadn't made a final decision on a name if the baby was a boy.

"Jeff had suggested 'Benjamin' early on, but I didn't make the connection," Dawn said. "When they put us in Room 7, we just looked at each other and a tentative boy's name was locked in." (That's Ben Roethlisberger's number.)

The baby turned out to be a boy and he quickly became "Little Ben."

The hospital staff decorated his bassinet with paper footballs and other Steelers symbols.

A television crew came to announce the event, and the new dad put his baby's arms up to signal "Go Steelers" in anticipation of the Super Bowl.

Steelers gifts started to pour in for the new baby. Dad bought him a Steelers "onesie" (one-piece garment for newborns).

Maternal grandmother Betty Rutan, of Washington, also figures in this scenario.

Little Ben is her seventh grandson; she has no granddaughters.

The parents said they would love to meet the football hero their baby is named after.

And dad has anxious plans for his son.

"I can't wait until he can hold a football," he said.

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