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Three-sport standout rebounds from surgery, makes impact for Catonsville

Catonsville Times co-Athlete of the Year Danny Bruno batted fourth for all four of his seasons on varsity.
Catonsville Times co-Athlete of the Year Danny Bruno batted fourth for all four of his seasons on varsity. (File photo/2015)

After having arm surgery during his junior year on Oct. 31, 2013, Catonsville High's Danny Bruno could have taken it easy in athletics during his senior year.

Instead, Bruno, who had Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm, came back for his senior year determined to not only play baseball, but to continue playing football in the fall, while picking up a new sport, wrestling, in the winter.

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He didn't just play the three sports. He made an impact and earned the 2015 Catonsville Times co-Athlete of the Year award along with Zach Delker.

Head wrestling coach Eric Warm had coached Bruno as an assistant for the baseball and football teams, but getting him on the mat as a heavyweight wrestler didn't look like it was in the cards.

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"I had been trying since freshman year to get him to come out so when he decided to come out it was a surprise for me," said Warm, who knew he had something special when, in the Comets first match of the season, they rallied from a 27-0 deficit for a 44-33 win over Calvert Hall.

Bruno earned a pin in the middle of the rally when he decked Henry Chaudron with 22 seconds left in the second period after trailing 11-6.

"It was his first match of the year and he's going against a guy who obviously has more experience than him and he was losing the match and he didn't give up and he didn't just lay down and just quit as many first-year wrestlers would do," Warm said. "He ends up going ahead and pinning the kid and sealing our win. If he doesn't do that, we very well could have lost that match."

On Jan. 10, he placed second in the Mount Hebron District V Duals tournament, his highest placing in a tournament all season.

Warm saw his improvement and by the end of the season he had a 22-9 record.

"In the beginning, he was basically going off brute strength," Warm said. "As the season went on, he was getting better and better."

The coach of the Comet squad that lost only one regular-season dual meet in 17 matches only wondered what would have happened if he had him in the wrestling room all four years.

"He would be on the podium (top six) at states, with his size and athleticism and just natural ability for athletics and sports," he said.

Off the mat, Warm was just as appreciative of the senior.

"He's fun to be around," Warm said. "You can have a conversation with him as an adult. You can talk with the guy because he has a lot to add. He's a good guy to be around."

Catonsville High baseball and football coach Rich Hambor was happy to have him around for four seasons on the varsity diamond and two on the varsity gridiron.

"He batted fourth for us every game for four years," Hambor said. "I said to him, 'That's your spot, you're the guy.'"

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Bruno hit .355 with 16 RBIs in his sophomore year when the Comets lost in the Class 4A state championship game.

After the season, he was one of three sophomores named to play for Team Maryland in the Big 26 Baseball Classic.

But, playing fall baseball, he injured his arm and eventually required surgery.

He delayed the surgery until after the ninth game of the football season so he could play blocking back.

He missed all but six games of his junior year on the baseball diamond, but he made his presence felt as a designated hitter in his first game back from surgery.

After getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in his first at bat, he drilled a two-run home run in his second plate appearance.

A third baseman and pitcher before his surgery, Bruno moved to first base and did some relief pitching for the 9-8 Comets this spring.

Bruno (.380 average), an All-Division First Team pick, was second to Jack Harrell (.386) among Comet regulars in batting average. He was also tied with Jake Getzendanner for the team lead in RBIs (13) and tied with Harrell in doubles (5).

On the mound, he tossed 15 2/3 innings and earned one save while posting an 0.89 earned run average and 0.957 WHIP (walks plus hits to innings pitched).

"Senior year, we wanted to proceed with caution because it had been a year and a half since surgery," Hambor said. "He said 'Coach, I feel fine,' and we never put him at risk, but we kind of managed his innings on the mound. He never started a game but he threw big innings. We knew he could help us and we put him out there for short bursts."

After he doubled in the go-ahead run in a 7-4 victory over Loch Raven on April 27, Bruno spoke about his arm recovery.

"It feels great," said Bruno, who will play baseball at the Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville next season.

In a win over Towson, Bruno laid down a sacrifice bunt to help the Comets to victory.

As a first baseman, he had 92 putouts and eights assists and didn't commit any errors.

"He played a heckuva first base," Hambor said. "He had great hands in football and baseball."

Although the Comets didn't throw much, the tight end caught 10 passes for 101 yards and scored two touchdowns for the 6-4 squad.

"Every time we threw it to him he was going to catch it," Hambor said. "He would have guys hanging on him, and linebackers pulling him, but he kept his composure so much."

Hambor has no doubt he will do well in baseball on the collegiate level.

"I think he will succeed at that, but he could have played football if he chose," Hambor said. "You get a guy that's 6-5, 280 [pounds] with great hands, you will find a place for him."

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