On Wednesday we told you about Nick LeGrande, a 13-year-old who loves baseball but doesn’t get to play this year because he’s fighting a serious illness. Nick has a rare blood disorder, and can’t even attend games due to his weakened immune system. But that’s where his favorite team, the Oakland A’s, and Google Fiber came in.
Oh, and also a robot that lasted only one pitch before it got the hook. But that’s OK, because it did its job.
LeGrande, who lives in Kansas City, threw what is believed to be the first telerobotic pitch in an MLB stadium on Wednesday night — winding up and throwing a baseball in Kansas City, which was simultaneously tossed by a robot at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland. The robot copied Nick’s pitching motion via sensors, completing a 1,800-mile ceremonial first pitch.
And up until about two hours before he threw it, it was a complete surprise to Nick. He was told he was going to visit his grandmother, but they drove him instead to the Google offices in Kansas City, where a mini-baseball stadium had been set up for him.
With family, friends and his doctors in his ballpark’s stands, LeGrande then threw a ball across a sensor that signaled for the machine at the Coliseum to propel the ball into the glove of A’s reliever Ryan Cook, who helped bring the opportunity to the attention of the A’s organization.
“My girlfriend’s older sister works for an advertising company that works for Google,” [A’s reliever Ryan] Cook said. “They brought it to her attention and she figured to bring it to my attention. And when she did that, I got obviously really excited about it. I thought it would be an amazing thing to be a part of, to make somebody’s dream come true.
“And once it came to me, I started at the bottom of the ladder here at the clubhouse and took it to the Athletics. … We got nothing but support all the way up, and from there it was pretty seamless and easy for me.”
Watch this awesome video below, if you can stand the dust.
Cook grabbed the ball and got it signed by all of the A’s players. And probably some Yankees as well.
Click here to learn more about Nick’s condition and how you can help by being a bone marrow donor.