- Head First Slide Causes Hahn Paralysis
- Article printed in April 20 edition of Collegiate
- By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
- Editor/Collegiate Baseball
- TEMPE, Ariz. Former Arizona State
player Cory Hahn is paralyzed from the middle of the chest down because of the head first
- A 2010 graduate of Mater Dei High School
(Santa Ana, Calif.), Cory earned First Team All-State, Trinity League MVP, 2010 Orange
County Player of the Year, CIF Player of the Year and California Player of the Year
- Following high school, Cory was drafted by
the San Diego Padres but decided to attend Arizona State University. Hahn, a freshman last
season, was playing in his second game as a starter for the Sun Devils against New Mexico
on Feb. 20, 2011.
- After Hahn reached first base, ASU put on a
double steal. As the Lobo pitcher went into his windup, both runners took off. The catcher
received the pitch and fired a ball to second as the 2B Kyle Stiner covered for New
- The throw was off as the ball carried Stiner
into the path of Hahn. Cory then slid head first into the fielders shin. The
collision broke Hahns neck as his body abruptly stopped, motionless on the ground.
- Hahn told Collegiate Baseball that he
had only utilized the head first slide less than 20 times in his entire life prior to that
- "Throughout my baseball career, I was
not really that big of a head first slider," said Hahn. "I rarely had done that.
If you dont count sliding head first back into first base on pickoff attempts, I
slid head first less than 20 times my entire life in games to different bags.
- "With the head first slide, you are
always worried about dislocating a shoulder, jamming your wrist or even getting your hand
stepped on with the potential for broken fingers. Thats why you see a lot of fast
base runners today wear wrist guards for this very reason.
- "I really never liked sliding head
first into bases. It was not natural for me, and it was uncomfortable. Since I was a speed
guy, I wanted to get there as fast as possible. Through testing, I realized the popup
slide was better suited to my game. So rarely did I ever do it. And the majority of times
when I did slide head first, it was into third base."
- Hahn said that he simply reacted to the
situation during that fateful day.
- "The only thing on my mind at the time
was get into second and be safe. The second baseman was going for the ball, and I slid
head first into the bag. A collision with my helmet and the infielders shin took
place, and I heard a crack take place. But I didnt know exactly what had
gone on because dealing with this type of injury is painless. My whole body went numb.
- "When the ball got past the second
baseman and into centerfield, my first instinct was to get up and go to third. My coaches
were yelling, Three, three, three, but I couldnt move at all. Then my
coaches and trainer came running out on the field."
- Hahn said within minutes other medical
personnel rushed to the scene, and he was taken off the field to an awaiting ambulance and
taken to Barrows Neurological Institute in St. Josephs Hospital a short drive away.
- "As I was motionless on the field, my
dad came down on the field to be with me. I was very fortunate he was there. Once he heard
that I was going to be a starter at ASU, he didnt want to miss his sons first
collegiate games and hopped in his car and drove all the way from California to see me
- "He helped me relax and was there to
make some important decisions in the hospital prior to surgery. He got in the ambulance
with me on the trip to the hospital as he rode in the front seat."
- C-5 Vertebrae Split In Half
- Hahn was asked what transpired once he
arrived at the hospital.
- "They did every test you can possibly
think of. They did all sorts of moving and motor type tests and then did CAT scans and
MRIs to pinpoint precisely what had happened. Within seconds of seeing the CAT scans and
MRIs, they knew surgery needed to be done. They saw that the C-5 vertebrae was split in
half with part of it sticking out into my spinal cord."
- Hahn said the surgery took about 5-6 hours,
and he was unconscious for 12-13 hours.
- "The Barrows Neurological Institute is
the top facility on the west coast for injuries like this and one of the best in the
world. I was fortunate that the top surgeon in this institute operated on me."
- Hahn said he woke up after the surgery and
had a number of nurses and doctors surrounding him.
- "I couldnt talk at the time
because I was hooked up to a ventilator to make sure I could breath. Then they took me off
the ventilator. The surgeon came in the room and talked to me one on one. He explained
that they fixed my C-5 vertebrae by putting it back together and essentially re-made the
bone. Then they fused C-4, C-5 and C-6 vertebraes together with a titanium plate, four
screws and a carbon fiber wrapping around those bones.
- "He said everything now was in
Gods hands. I wasnt really listening that closely at the time since I was
under some powerful narcotics. I was really groggy. But the message was clear that I was
going to be paralyzed."
READ MORE ABOUT CORY HAHN BEING PARALYZED: This
special feature in the April 20, 2012 edition of Collegiate Baseball delves
deeper into this tragedy. Hahn was transferred to an in-patient rehabilitation facility in
Pomona, Calif. for 50 days before finally going home. His dad then quit his job to be with
Cory full time instead of hiring nurses. And ultimately, Cory came back to take courses at
Arizona State and pushes himself in a plain wheel chair several miles a day around campus
while taking a grueling academic load. In addition, ASU Head Coach Tim Esmay explains the
horror of this injury. To read the entire story, call our subscription department at (520)
623-4530 weekdays from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mountain Time. A copy of the April 20 issue is
available for $3 while a years subscription to Collegiate Baseball (14
issues) is $28.