Baseball Coach’s Plan to Make Dream Come True for Team Manager with Disability Denied by PIAA

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BUTLER TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A high school baseball team manager in Schuylkill County has always dreamed of contributing to the box score despite his disability. His coach came up with a plan to make that happen until it was shot down by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Anyone you ask would tell you that Brandon Harris is a sports fanatic. As team manager of the North Schuylkill Spartans baseball team, Harris' smile and positivity radiate throughout the team's dugout--even after one of his dreams was dashed by the PIAA.

Tucked away at the base of Gordon Mountain in Butler Township sits the North Schuylkill High School baseball field. This is where Harris finds peace.

"I'm a huge fan of sports, and baseball is one of my favorite sports, and I always dreamt of being a baseball player," Harris said.

Harris suffers from muscular dystrophy. For the last three years, he's served as team manager for the Spartans baseball team.

"I feel like it's an honor because not everybody gets a chance to do things like that. They've treated me like a regular teammate. They treat me like a brother like I treat them."

Heading into a game against Pottsville last week, Head Coach Nick Brayford had a special surprise lined up for his team manager.

"We were going to enter Brandon as a pinch runner in a game. It was all set up. He would walk the first guy and Brandon would take first base," Brayford said. "It was kind of an overthrow that would bring him around to score."

But citing safety concerns, the PIAA shot down the idea.

"They had said that it would ruin the integrity of the game. I understand that everybody has rules and regulations. I do, but I think it should be evaluated on an individual basis," said Brayford.

Harris admits the news of this was pretty hard to take, but he hopes that in the future, this will allow other kids who suffer from disabilities to live out their dreams.

"It would've mean everything to me because that's what I always wanted to do," said Harris. "I hope that if it's not for me, it's for the next kid that tries to do the same thing that I'm doing."

Coach Brayford says that in the aftermath of this, a Minor League player with the Norfolk Tides has reached out to him in hopes that Brandon and his family can come to a RailRiders game when the Baltimore Orioles AAA affiliate comes to town in August.


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