Corey Phelan death: Philadelphia Phillies minor league pitcher dies of cancer at 20

'The whole Phillies organization has been nothing but amazing to me and my family,' Phelan said in a June interview.

By6abc Digital Staff, Jamie Apody, and Brock Koller WPVI logo
Friday, October 14, 2022
Phillies pitching prospect Corey Phelan dies of cancer at 20
EMBED <>More Videos

Corey Phelan passed away at the age of 20 after a battle with non-Hodkin lymphoma.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies organization is mourning the loss of minor leaguer Corey Phelan.

Phelan passed away at the age of 20 after a battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the team announced Thursday.

"The Phillies family is extremely saddened by the tragic passing of Corey Phelan. 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 While he was incredibly passionate about the game of baseball, his love for his family and his strong faith superseded everything else. 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," the Phillies said in a statement.

Sports reporter Jamie Apody, with our sister station, WPVI Action News, interviewed Phelan back in June.

Phelan recalled when he was diagnosed with cancer in April, at age 19.

"I was taking a shower and I passed out in the shower. So I called 911 and the ambulance came," Phelan said. "I got a CAT scan of my chest and they told me I had a 9-inch mass in my chest."

Phelan told WPVI about the treatment he was receiving to fight the cancer.

"It's chemotherapy, which goes through a drip in an IV, which goes through a PICC line in my arm. It makes you very tired," says Phelan. "You just sit there in a bed."

Phillies minor league pitcher Corey Phelan was living his dream. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, he was forced to live his nightmare.

The left-handed pitcher was able to take a break from treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York in May and visited the Phillies clubhouse at Citi Field when they were in town to face the Mets.

It provided Phelan, a New York native, with a much-needed boost.

"That was one of the best nights ever -- getting to be able to talk with the guys in the locker room, Joe Girardi took me on the field, everyone supportive and nice. The whole Phillies organization has been nothing but amazing to me and my family," Phelan said.

The visit also lifted the spirits of the Phillies.

"He is going through some hard times right now," Aaron Nola said after Phelan's visit, reported. "The hard times that we go through in baseball doesn't compare to what he is going through. The positivity that he showed -- his faith and belief that God has it under control. Obviously, it shows what kind of person that he is, what kind of man he is. The guys in the clubhouse saw that."

Phelan told Action News that he was looking forward to making it to the big leagues.

"It gave a little motivation, and I can't wait to get up to the big leagues with those guys," Phelan said. "From being at the field and with my friends all day to being in a hospital bed, it's really all I think about: getting back out there in Clearwater. I can't wait."

The Phillies signed Phelan in 2020 as an undrafted free agent out of high school.

In May, Phelan's high school, Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, NY, held a golf outing to support him and his family.

Phelan made his professional debut last season with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Phillies and posted a 0.93 ERA over five relief appearances.

"We are saddened by the passing of Corey Phelan, a prospect in the Phillies organization. Our thoughts are with Corey's family, friends and teammates," Minor League Baseball said.

Former Clearwater Threshers teammate pitcher Andrew Painter tweeted two broken hearts.

Painter and Phelan were named Phillies Minor League Co-Pitchers of the Month for April of this year. Phelan, who did not pitch this season, was being honored for his courage and perseverance.

In a statement Thursday, Phillies director of player development Preston Mattingly said, "Corey is and will always be a special person. His smile lit up a room and anybody who came in contact with him cherished the interaction. His memory will live on, especially with the Phillies organization."

Jamie Apody reflected on her time talking with Phelan just a few short months ago.

"Devastated to learn of the passing of Phillies pitching prospect Corey Phelan. I had a chance to chat with Corey in June. The team has been his inspiration throughout his fight with cancer. May he be theirs now. Gone too soon. #WinForCorey," Jamie said.