Monday, August 05, 2013

Historic First Telerobotic Pitch that Stole our Hearts

In our modern life, as a result of social media sites, it has become too easy to focus simply on the controversial and negativity when it comes to sport. With the rush to be the first to break the story and have the most views, it seems that the world has lost sight of what really matters. Between the drug lawsuits and investigations, the on-field brawls and player suspensions, it seems that we have forgotten the amazing positives sport brings to the world. With a shared passion and love for their favourite team and their sporting heroes, sport brings people together. It is not often we get reminded of this, but just like on, every once in awhile, everything lines up and the world stops and shares in the beauty that sport brings to each and every person.

Meet Nick LeGrande, a regular 13-year-old from Kansas City who loves baseball and everything about it. Sadly though, he is fighting a serious illness. Nick suffers from severe aplastic anemia, a rare blood disorder which has not only made it difficult for him to play the sport that he loves but also made it impossible for him to attend games due to his weakened immune system. This has not dampened Nick’s spirits though, as he became the first person in the history of the Major League Baseball to throw the first pitch telerobotically 1800 miles from Kansas City to Oakland A’s reliever Ryan Cook’s hands at the Coliseum in Oakland.

With help from Google Fiber, a mini-stadium was built, complete with real grass and a real dirt mound. LeGrande stepped up onto the mound in Kansas sporting his baseball cap and pitched with all his heart. The robotic arm in Oakland copied Nick’s pitching motion via sensors, completing the world record breaking pitch perfectly.

For Nick and everyone watching, the records were not important, instead, with teary eyes, everyone forgot all the negativity and focused only on the innocent and heart-warming events that unfolded. To make the surprise even greater for Nick, he only realised what was actually happening about two hours before his pitch. He was told that he was off to visit his grandmother, but was driven instead to the Google offices where he was given the opportunity to pitch to the reliever of his favourite team. Ryan Cook and all the other players topped off the event by signing the ball and sending it back to Nick.

By Jason Swindon