Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ill Teenager throws out robotic first pitch at A's game from 1,800 miles away

Nick LeGrande made what is believed to be baseball history Wednesday night when the 13-year-old threw out a virtual ceremonial first pitch before the Yankees-Athletics game from an office in Kansas City — 1,800 miles  from the Oakland Coliseum baseball mound.

The throw — which landed into the glove of A's reliever Ryan Cook — was made possible by a telerobotic pitching machine which helped LeGrande — a huge A's fan with rare blood disorder called severe aplastic anemia whose illness no longer allows him to attend a game — make his dream come true.

After the pitch, Cook looked into the robot's camera and gave the former Little League righthander a virtual high-five.

"That a boy, Nick, pretty good arm there, bud," Cook said. "Congratulations, bud, you're in the big leagues."

Before the big moment, LeGrande and his family, including parents Mike and Shari, were taken to a specially constructed mini baseball stadium. It was built by Google at its Kansas City offices -- a location close to LeGrande's home and Children's Mercy Hospital, where he receives treatment. Nick's friends, doctors and former teammates were all set to be in attendance.

At the same in the Bay Area, a telerobotic pitching machine was placed on the pitcher's mound at the Oakland Coliseum to follow the teen's movements. The technology allowed LeGrande to simultaneously throw the pitch and watch it happen from afar.

In explaining the new process, Google said that LeGrande would use an Android application allowing him to control the movements of the robot in Oakland. That robot was equipped with a camera, livestreaming a view of the ballpark to LeGrande in Kansas City.

A video about LeGrande's life was shown on the two main scoreboards before the first pitch, which was then shown live from Kansas City on the two big screens.

Cook told the teen he would have the ball signed by all of the A's players and personally visit him in the hospital when the team plays in Kansas City from July 5-7.

No comments:

Post a Comment