Since suffering a spinal cord injury in 2011, Cory Hahn has made it his mission to inspire the uninspired.
The former California Mr. Baseball and ASU outfielder’s playing career ended before he expected, but that hasn’t stopped him from making an impact around the game. Now, Hahn is the coordinator of professional scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks and, along with current Pittsburgh Pirates starter Trevor Williams, is a co-founder of Project 34, a foundation focused on supporting people who have suffered spinal cord injuries.
The organization hosted the inaugural “Dingers in the Desert” at Phoenix Municipal Ballpark on Saturday. The day consisted of three home run derbies: a youth division, an ASU head-to-head derby between Spencer Torkelson and Carter Andrete, and a professional derby which featured the likes of the Red Sox’ Bobby Dalbec, Philadelphia Phillies infielder Scott Kingery and White Sox infielder Matt Davidson.
Hahn and Williams have been close for nearly a decade now. Williams sported #43 while with the Sun Devils but now wears #34, Hahn’s number at ASU. Their goal since rooming together in Tempe has always been to make a difference in their community far beyond the baseball diamond.
“One thing we always shared together was that passion of giving back and doing whatever we can to make the community better,” Hahn said. “This is our avenue to do that. When we came together and put this idea together, we were on the same page and said, ‘Let’s do it.’ We had that same goal to impact as many lives as we can.”
Multiple current members of the ASU baseball program were in attendance on Saturday, as well as Jacob Gonzalez, who is in the San Francisco Giants farm system, and Chicago White Sox pitcher Ryan Burr, who played at ASU with Williams and Hahn.
Project 34 is just getting started, and the group plans to continue events like these to not only raise money for those with spinal cord injuries but also create awareness for those within that community.
“The community can always grow,” Hahn said. “I don’t think there is enough light on the spinal cord injury community of what we go through on a regular basis and how impactful this is. This isn’t necessarily a torn ACL or a Tommy John Surgery where you rehab for a couple of months and are back to normal. This is a lifelong battle that comes with a lot of challenges daily.”
Both Hahn and Williams hope to spread that awareness for years to come through Project 34 and events like Dingers in the Desert.