Robot helps A’s fan make first pitch — over 1,600 miles (video)

June 13, 2013

The view in Oakland of what was happening in KC. (Ben Margot / AP)

One of the best feel-good moments of the baseball season so far was delivered by a cold, unfeeling robot Wednesday night.

Assist: Google. (Ben Margot / AP)
Assist: Google. (Ben Margot / AP)

Nick LeGrande, a 13-year-old Oakland A’s fan, made baseball history, completing what is believed to be the game’s first telerobotic first pitch. With help from Google, LeGrande threw the pitch in Kansas City, Mo. — and A’s reliever Ryan Cook caught it in Oakland.

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

LeGrande, who has severe aplastic anemia, cannot attend games and was taken to a small stadium that Google built at its KC office near LeGrande’s home and the hospital in which he gets treatment.

Nick's parents joined him for the pitch. (Fred Blocher / AP)
Nick’s parents joined him for the pitch. (Fred Blocher / AP)

A telerobotic pitching machine on the mound in the Oakland Coliseum tracked LeGrande’s form and completed the pitch.

Cook helped arrange the pitch through his girlfriend’s sister, who works for Google.

“I thought it would be an amazing thing to be a part of, to make somebody’s dream come true,” Cook said (via the Associated Press). “And once it came to me, I started at the bottom of the ladder here at the clubhouse and took it to the Athletics and hoped they’d be supportive of it. We got nothing but support all the way up, and from there it was pretty seamless and easy for me. I just sat back and let it all transpire.”

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren · June 13, 2013