Outfielder Cory Hahn's major league baseball dream is long gone, but the Arizona Diamondbacks
gave him an unexpected, much-needed emotional boost on Saturday.
Three games into his collegiate career at Arizona State University in 2010, Hahn was paralyzed from the chest down after he slid into second base. Since then, he and his family have become an inspiration for the community.
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The Diamondbacks took note and selected the 21-year-old for the 34th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft, symbolic because Hahn wore No. 34 for the Sun Devils.
"It's something that you can't really put into words," Hahn told MLB.com. "It was very humbling that they wanted to do this for me. It's something I'll always cherish. No one made them do it, so the fact that they did — I'll be forever thankful. They gave up a Draft spot for me. They didn't have to do that. There were plenty of good players still available."
Hahn was also drafted in the 26th round of the 2010 draft by the San Diego Padres, after he earned "Mr. Baseball" honors in California following his senior season at Mater Dei High School, in Santa Ana, Ca. He passed to play for ASU with hopes of raising his draft profile.
While he was in college, Hahn attempted to take second base on the back end of a double steal in one of his first few games, but a fielder lunged into Hahn while he was sliding head first. The fielder's knee hit Hahn in the head, causing it to jerk backward.
At the hospital, Hahn learned he had a fractured C5 vertebrae in his neck and was paralyzed from the chest down. He eventually returned to classes and to the team as a student coach, but his playing career was over.
That didn't stop the Diamondbacks from making the gesture.
"We couldn't be any more excited," D-backs scouting director Ray Montgomery told multiple media outlets. "Talking to Cory, he was thrilled and, as usual, humbled and actually thanked us, which kind of surprised me. All the credit goes to him and his family for what they've endured. We couldn't be more happy about bringing him on board."
This isn't the first time a major team has honored a hurt player. Last month, the Chicago Steel selected hockey player Jack Jablonski, who was paralyzed after being checked into the boards when he was a sophomore in high school.
Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall, who visited Hahn in the hospital after his injury, said he wants this to be more than a gesture.
"We want to make this permanent," Hall said. "We don't want to make it just about the selection and about him being a Draft pick, but about working here in full-time employment with the Diamondbacks. Hopefully we'll make that come to fruition for him and his family here soon."
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