Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 6/20/13
Tanner Vavra has heard the criticisms. He would never be good enough to play college baseball, let alone professional baseball. And even if he did, he wouldn't be as good as his peers. Even Vavra's own father had his doubts. But earlier this month, when the Minnesota Twins took Vavra in the 30th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft, all those doubters were silenced. That includes Joe Vavra, Minnesota's third base coach, who once thought his son would never ascend past high school baseball. Even though he is blind in one eye, Tanner Vavra has proven the doubters wrong. And on Thursday night, he suited up as a professional ball player for the first time with the Elizabethton Twins of the Appalachian League. He may not have been able to see the baseball as well as his new teammates, but Vavra has proven that he belongs in this game. "With any kind of limitation, there's a lot of disbelief," said Joe Vavra. "As a parent, I was in disbelief as he climbed the levels. As a baseball person having him on your team, you're in disbelief. He's proven a lot of people wrong. If he plays a day, a month, whatever beyond what he's doing, that's more than I ever expected." When Tanner Vavra was three years old, he and his dad went fly fishing in Washington, where Joe was managing Class-A Yakima of the Northwest League. Father and son had just started the day of fishing when Joe began to cast. At the same time, Tanner started running toward his mother. The hook from his father's fishing pole happened to snag Tanner in his right eye, spinning the 3-year-old around. Both the cornea and lens were torn, and despite numerous surgeries -- and thanks in part to another injury to the same eye seven years later -- Tanner no longer can see out of his right eye. That hasn't stopped him from being a pretty good baseball player in his own right. He spent two years at Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin before transferring to Valparaiso. As a junior, Vavra batted .332 with 20 RBI in 59 games for the Crusaders. His numbers were equally impressive as a senior, when he batted .330 with 20 RBI and 10 doubles in 60 games. Those numbers drew the interest of several major league teams, but it was the Twins who ultimately gave Vavra the chance to pursue his dream of being a professional baseball player. "Every scout that I talked to said, 'You're a great player. I'm really amazed at what you can do.' That was kind of it. Nobody ever wanted to take the chance," Vavra said. "After two years at the Division I level, I finally got that shot." Joe Vavra has spent more than three decades in professional baseball, first as a player in the Dodgers organization and later as a coach. He figured that, as a senior in college, his son might have a chance to be drafted, but it would likely come in the later rounds. When the Twins took Tanner Vavra on June 8 as the 890th overall pick, Minnesota was playing the Nationals in Washington. Joe Vavra found out from Twins manager Ron Gardenhire that his son had just been drafted. "Gardy came up and about put his hand through my chest and said, 'Congratulations, they drafted Tanner in the 30th round,'" Joe Vavra recalls. "I don't really remember what happened after that inning. I'm pretty good about recalling the whole game and most definitely an inning. I wasn't quite prepared for it." Joe Vavra tried calling his son but couldn't get a hold of him. As it turned out, Tanner was busy cleaning out all of his old Twins gear that he had put into storage in case he was drafted by another team. When the Vavras were finally able to connect on the phone later that night, there was plenty of congratulating from the father -- and a little bit of "I told you so" from the son. "He's always wanted to play the game. It didn't matter if he had one arm, one finger, one eye, one leg, it didn't matter," Joe Vavra said. "He was going to go out and play the game and prove everybody wrong. That's just a chip that he carries. It's a really productive chip. I've worried about that chip because of anger and issues and things like that growing up, and 'Why me?' I don't think that's ever crossed his mind. It's like, 'Why not me? Why can't I? Who's going to tell me I can't?'" The Twins believed Tanner Vavra could, and now he's trying to prove them right after proving so many people wrong for so many years. "I just felt relief that I knew I was going to get the opportunity to keep playing baseball and knew what was ahead of me, at least a little bit, rather than having to try to find a job or play independent ball and try to go that route," Tanner Vavra said of being drafted. "I've got a long ways to go to work up to actually having (my dad) coach me, but that's the ultimate goal. Now I have the opportunity and I've just got to keep putting the work in." Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LeSean McCoy seemingly responds to trade rumors

Hue Jackson: Kizer 'positioning himself well' to win starting job

Grading the deal: Celtics, Cavs trade Kyrie and Isaiah Thomas

Jon Jones tests positive for steroids, reportedly stripped of title

Report: Bills have not made LeSean McCoy available in trades

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Emmanuel Sanders involved in car accident on way to team facility

Old Isaiah Thomas tweet about LeBron goes viral following trade

Reports: Cavs, Celtics complete trade involving Irving, Thomas

Report: Smaller-market teams support Pacers in tampering case against Lakers

Report: MRI confirms ankle sprain for Odell Beckham Jr.

Jason Garrett indicates Ezekiel Elliott could play this week

The 'When the Doctor took the Big Apple by storm' quiz

BIG3 Referee Hotline: Calls routed from 1-900-MIX-A-LOT

The Indians are on a mission to make you pay attention whether you want to or not

15 college football coaches who are on the hot seat

Getaway Day: The playing field is leveling off as the wild-card chase takes shape

The 'Anquan Boldin calls it a career' quiz

Sports & Politics Intersect: Echoes of Charlottesville ripple across the sports world

BIG3 Playoff Preview: Can anyone stop Trilogy?

Why the SEC is not the best football conference anymore

Box Score 8/18: Reds and Cubs claw through a 23-run game

The 'M! E! S! S! Mess! Mess! Mess!' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: Giancarlo Stanton won't stop hitting homers

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

BIG3 Referee Hotline: Calls routed from 1-900-MIX-A-LOT

The 'When the Doctor took the Big Apple by storm' quiz

The Indians are on a mission to make you pay attention whether you want to or not

The 'Anquan Boldin calls it a career' quiz

Getaway Day: The playing field is leveling off as the wild-card chase takes shape

Sports & Politics Intersect: Echoes of Charlottesville ripple across the sports world

BIG3 Playoff Preview: Can anyone stop Trilogy?

The 'Bye bye to the Beast Incarnate?' quiz

Why the SEC is not the best football conference anymore

The 'M! E! S! S! Mess! Mess! Mess!' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker