ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Most players on the St. Paul Saints roster come to play with a vision for more. And infielder Tanner Vavra is no different. But for Vavra, not seeing is part of believing in himself.
When Vavra steps up to the plate, the bright stage is dampened by darkness. He is totally blind in his right eye.
“[I see] nothing. It’s completely black,” he said. “I can’t even see the Big E, it’s just a wall of darkness.”
At three years old, Vavra injured his right eye in a fishing accident. When he was 10, he hurt his same eye playing football, causing his vision to vanish.
“Maybe it’s easier for me, I just have to worry about one eye not blinking,” he said. “But you know I just walk up there. It doesn’t really cross my mind. I look for the baseball, try to look for some spin and go from there.”
His experience is extreme, but he’s never used his condition as an excuse.
“I was so dang competitive that it never really slowed me down,” he said. “I struggled with it. I think it was more the mental aspect of, you know, kids can be mean – dealing with different stuff kids use against you.”
He has had doubters, including doctors.
“I know there’s at least a handful of doctors that would tell you I’m pretty stupid,” he laughed.
But those naysayers are silenced whenever he takes the field in St. Paul.
“Yea it sucks, but are you going to pout about it or make the most with what you’ve got?” he said.
What could have been is not a question he’s been asking as he carves out his path on the diamond. But wherever Vavra goes, he’s keeping a focus that goes far beyond the baseball field.