Over the weekend, news broke that the Arizona Diamondbacks have done something extraordinary: drafting paralyzed Arizona State outfielder Cory Hahn:
The former Mater Dei High School (CA) star and “Mr. Baseball” in California who many thought would be a “can’t miss” prospect was paralyzed after sliding into second base during his freshman season at Arizona State in 2011.
The Diamondbacks said this was not a symbolic 34th round selection, and the organization will make Hahn, who is a student-coach for Arizona State, a full-time employee.
Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall told the Associated Press that drafting Hahn was a “no-brainer.”
Last year, the Los Angeles Times told the story of how Hahn’s father gave up his career to care for his son:
The coach once helped carry his son from tee ball to the top of the high school baseball world, never missing a game, cheering every moment, from midnight batting practice to driveway bullpen sessions to championship glory.
Today, the coach gently places his son over his shoulder and carries him from his wheelchair to the front seat of his dusty truck.
“We were never much for hugging,” Dale Hahn says. “But now I get to hug my son all the time.”
The coach once pushed the son to become California’s Mr. Baseball, working on his swing, inspiring his hustle and watching him become a powerful outfielder with speed, smarts, a full scholarship to Arizona State and a major league future.
Now, the coach pushes the son’s wheelchair across busy streets and over large bumps to a college economics class.
“There were times I would wonder, what’s better, being dead or being like this?” Cory Hahn says. “But then I look up and see my dad and think, if he can do it, I can do it.”
It has been a year since this former Santa Ana Mater Dei High baseball star broke his neck diving into second base in his third collegiate game, shattering the life of the Southland’s brightest baseball star into tiny dark pieces.
Yet while everything has changed, nothing has changed.
Cory Hahn is a C5 quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. He has limited use of his hands and arms. The kid who once led his team to a CIF championship by pitching five perfect innings, making an over-the-shoulder catch and hitting a long home run now battles to eat hamburgers, wash his hair and wheel to class.
“My goals don’t take days anymore, they take weeks, they take months,” he says.
But, as always, Cory is able to stretch toward those goals from the broad shoulders of the balding guy he calls Pops. The man who always urged him to give full effort by “Spilling your bucket” has met this challenge by overturning his life.
After spending years as his son’s baseball coach, Dale Hahn has quit his job as a sales rep to become his son’s life coach.
It’s a great story for Father’s Day, isn’t it?