MATC grad overcomes partial blindness, goes pro

Tanner Vavra chases dream of playing in major leagues with unique story
MATC grad overcomes partial blindness, goes pro
Tanner Vavra

Tanner Vavra’s had success wherever he’s played. A three-sport star in high school, Vavra went on to play baseball at Madison College where he led the team in hitting as a redshirt freshman.

Now he’s chasing his dream of playing in the major leagues. Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2013, Vavra currently plays for the Single-A affiliate Cedar Rapids Kernels.

But Vavra’s story is unique. He has been blind in his right eye since he was 10 years old. But where others see limitation, Vavra sees opportunity.

“I’m playing professional baseball. It doesn’t get much more real than that. I think that it’s human nature to kind of wonder where your ceiling is. But as far as I go, I’m not going to put a ceiling on myself. Other people do that for me. Eventually, it’ll happen, but I’m not going to think about it for now. I wasted enough time doing that,” Vavra said.

Madison College head coach Mike Davenport never doubted Vavra’s talent or his ability to overcome obstacles.

“I think he was a perfect match for where he was at in his life and the type of guy we look for. I hope they give him some time here for a few years, because the one thing he’s shown in his life is that he can adjust,” Davenport said.

Kernels manager Jake Mauer credits Vavra’s success to his ability to look past all the challenges that come with having only one eye.

“It’s obviously his drive and his work ethic. He works harder than anybody we’ve got. He puts his all into everything that he does. And that’s what’s gotten him to this point,” Mauer said.

Vavra’s even making plans for life outside of baseball, and he has television at the top of his list.

“‘Life in the eye of Tanner Vavra’ — Would that be a great name for a reality show?” Vavra said.

WATCH WISC-TV’s story on Vavra in 2010.