A 20-year-old Long Island native and minor league pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies has died after a battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the team's head of player development announced Thursday.
Corey Phelan, of Greenlawn, was an undrafted free agent out of Harborfields High School who signed with the squad in 2020. He gave up just one run while pitching nine and two-thirds relief innings last year as part of the Florida Complex League's rookie-level Phillies and was diagnosed with cancer this past April, according to the MLB.
A month later, Phelan visited the major league Phillies when they played the Mets at Citi Field. He got to spend some time with the major leaguers and spoke honestly about his struggles. Known for his infectious smile and courageous spirit, Phelan uplifted the ball players just as much as he did them, according to the team.
"The Phillies family is extremely saddened by the tragic passing of Corey Phelan," Preston Mattingly, director of player development for the Phillies, said in a statement. "Corey’s positive presence and selflessness influenced everyone around him. While he was incredibly passionate about the game of baseball, his love for his family and his strong faith superseded everything else.
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"We extend our deepest condolences to his family, as well as his teammates and staff who were by his side, providing emotional support throughout the course of his courageous battle with cancer," Mattingly continued.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a kind of cancer that attacks part of the immune system, causing white blood cells called lymphocytes to grow abnormally and potentially form tumors throughout the body, according to the Mayo Clinic.