A star North Carolina pitcher has been told he won't be able to walk at his high school's graduation for a rather novel reason: He was selected in the Major League Baseball amateur draft.
As first reported by Charlotte network WBTV, Charlotte (N.C.) Providence High ace Ty Buttrey was informed by school officials that he will not be allowed to walk at the school's graduation because he skipped his class' Monday night graduation walk-through, which banned cell phones for all those in attendance.
While that might seem like a perfectly reasonable policy and penalty for Buttrey's absence, there was a reason why he couldn't be there: He needed to have his cell phone on so he could be aware of updates with the Major League Baseball entry draft, where he expected to be selected.
Buttrey, who was viewed by some analysts as the second-best high school right-handed pitching option in the draft, stands 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds with a fastball that averages 94 mph (he's reportedly topped out at 96 mph) and also features an above-average knuckle-curveball and change-up. In short, he had every reason to think that he would be selected during the first day of the draft.
And while Buttrey wasn't selected on Monday night, in a way he was still right: He was picked by the Red Sox in the draft's fourth round on Tuesday thanks in part to negotiations he entered in Monday night with Red Sox officials as the draft and commencement rehearsal were both ongoing.
"His coach tried to work with the principal and she wouldn't have anything to do with it. So it's not like we didn't try," Dan Buttrey, Ty's Buttrey's father, told WBTV.
In past years, it's possible that Buttrey could have responded to phone calls at a later time, but new collective bargaining rules give each team a total cap on signing bonuses, a change which makes it imperative that draft picks quickly and agilely negotiate potential contracts.
Those restrictions put the onus on athletes to make quick decisions about their future, and Buttrey's father said the family was absolutely unwilling to let preparatory rigamarole related to high school graduation get in the way of a potentially lucrative future in professional baseball.
"I told him I don't care what the teachers say or the principal say," Dan Buttrey told WBTV. "This is more important than that. I'm not going to deal with the administrators of Providence High School versus my son signing a million-dollar contract with the Boston Red Sox."
Knowing that the lack of cell phones could have been a sticking point, the Buttrey family had already reached out to try and broker a diplomatic way for their son to walk at the Independence graduation, first falling flat with the Independence principal, and then failing with a proposal to grant Buttrey an exception to the no cell phone policy.
Since neither attempt to let Buttrey walk at graduation was successful, the teen is currently scheduled to sit out the ceremony, though that may not be the case when the ceremony rolls around June 12. Needless to say, it seems likely that Independence High and Charlotte-Mecklensburg school officials will get plenty of pressure to bend on their restrictions to accommodate a teen who may soon be one of the district's more notable athletic alumni.
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