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D-Backs Corbin vaults into Chipola College immortality

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Patrick Corbin came to Chipola College in 2009 a skinny guy, as his former coach Jeff Johnson put it.

“When I got there I really didn’t know what a weight room was,” Corbin said. “And I didn’t really eat right or enough.”

But he was athletic.

“He could jump out of the gym,” Johnson said.

Six years later Corbin has jumped up the Chipola Baseball/Softball Complex wall to join the likes of Buck Showalter, Russell Martin and Jose Bautista.

These four men share something only they can stake claim to: having their numbers retired from Chipola College.

Corbin, pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, had his No. 8 jersey retired from Chipola Feb. 7. In joining Showalter, Martin and Bautista, Corbin’s number became the fourth the school retired in the last three years.

“Having my jersey with the other three out there, with those types of players in this program, is pretty unique for a junior college to have,” Corbin said.

Corbin caught on with Chipola in 2008 when Johnson came out to see Corbin play in a travel league game a few weeks before Chipola started its fall semester. Corbin, a New York native, had been attending Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica. But he knew he wanted to leave the state and go somewhere people would notice him.

That meeting with Johnson was the first step.

Johnson recalls Corbin picking things up in a hurry and developing his craft. Corbin didn’t have much of a changeup, throwing mostly fastballs and sliders in high school.

“I didn’t have that third pitch but over time the more you do it and the more reps you get you learn the grips and how to pitch,” Corbin said.

He pitched one season for the Indians in 2009, starting 14 games while posting a 6-3 record and .244 batting average.

“It was a great decision for me,” Corbin said. “I would never change it for the world. Just the competition and the number of players who have come out of that program is just incredible.”

That one season led to the Los Angeles Angels drafting him in the second round of the 2009 draft. After three years in the minors, he joined the Diamondbacks in 2012 and made the All-Star team in 2013.

In 2014 Tommy John surgery sidelined Corbin for the season. Johnson was there to see him through. The two always keep in touch, exchanging texts every week to see how the other is doing.

Baseball was never a definite thing. But it brought Corbin to the big leagues.

“I never thought I’d be where I am with baseball,” Corbin said. “I just love playing sports and baseball was something I continued to do. I’m just fortunate to be where I am.”

It was alumni week when the retirement ceremony occurred. Johnson presented Corbin with the jersey that now hangs on the wall of Chipola’s stadium.

Amid that, the alumni dinner and the home run derby, Corbin was thrilled to be back at the school with everyone together again.

“That’s where my career started,” Corbin said. “I’ll always remember that and I’ll always support that program.”