Orlando Area High School Cuts Disabled Pitcher: Was It the Wrong Call?

PHOTO: A double-amputee high-school pitcher, was cut from the high school baseball team, prompting outcry from many in his Florida community.
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A double-amputee high-school pitcher, who many see as a symbol of perseverance for overcoming a physical disability and excelling as an athlete, was cut from his school's baseball team, prompting an outcry from many in his Florida community.

"As a mother, as a parent, I was devastated. But aside from that, I felt like it was discriminating," said Diane Burruto, mother of 16-year-old Anthony Burruto, the pitcher who was cut from the Dr. Phillips High School varsity team.

As a baby, Burruto was forced to have both of his lower legs amputated.

"It was congenital at birth. He was missing a tibia (and fibula) in both legs, so we amputated at a very young age, which is why he does so well," said Diane Burruto. "He's an overachiever. He doesn't have a disability. Not in his mind."

Standing tall on two prosthetics, Burruto has been playing baseball since he was just eight years old. Now 16, Anthony not only loves pitching, but he's also very good. His 80 mile per hour fast ball has earned Burruto the attention of ESPN and if not for his condition, could make him a top prospect for the major leagues.

For Burruto, there is nothing better than stepping onto the mound. "It's a great feeling that I'm just going to throw that ball as hard as I can and try and get the guy out," he said.

But now, his game is over. The Dr. Phillips High School sophomore was cut on the second day of tryouts despite his killer arm.

"I had such a great tryout and my confidence level was high as it can be and I thought I was on the team, but then when my number wasn't called, I was so disappointed," Burruto recalled. "My all-time dream was to play on the high school team."

Because of Burruto's prosthetics, Dr. Phillips High School varsity team coach Mike Bradley told the Orlando Sentinel that it's harder for him to field a bunt. According to many high school coaches, a pitcher who can't field a bunt can't play.

"I've been playing for eight years, and that's never been an issue," Burruto said.

The Orange County Public School District told ABC News in a statement that "Anthony [Burruto] was given the same opportunity as all other students."

"With only 40 roster spots, Anthony and 22 other students did not make either team," Dylan Thomas, director of public relations at Orange County Public Schools said in a statement. "As a sophomore, Anthony has the chance to vie for a position on a school team again next year and we hope he will."

High School's Decision Sparks Outrage

Word about the school's decision quickly spread in Burruto's Orlando community, sparking outrage.

"The more people I spoke to I realized that, 'Hey, I'm not overreacting.' Everyone was outraged. I had people crying, people yelling, I had support letters being sent to me," she said.

Burruto, who has never let his disability slow him down, only wishes his school would do the same.

"I plan on playing travel ball this summer, but as far as the school, playing for the school, honestly I don't know if I'll ever play there again," he said.

Burruto was reportedly offered a position as a team manager, which he declined.

"I don't want him to give up on baseball, he's too good of a player," his mom said. "And I don't want to allow one ignorant person to stop him in his tracks."

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