Young A's fan in Kansas City throws telerobotic first pitch in Oakland
On Tuesday night, a special young baseball fan threw out the first pitch in Oakland ... all the way from Kansas City.
Thirteen-year-old Nick LeGrande has a rare, life-threatening blood disorder called severe aplastic anemia. Once he found out he couldn't play baseball anymore, LeGrande cried. But when Google Fiber's Kansas City office heard LeGrande's story, the wheels started turning on a life-changing project. Google Fiber, which delivers high-speed internet, teamed with the Oakland A's, ad agency Venables, Bell & Partners and the robotic engineers at Deeplocal to make the magic happen.
LeGrande thought he was going to his grandma's birthday party on Tuesday, but he was actually taken to a scaled-down, indoor field with a big screen. Motion sensors controlled a Go Pro camera on the telerobotic pitching machine, allowing LeGrande to look around the Coliseum before he threw from his mound in Kansas City, which activated a catapult-like arm in Oakland for the first pitch.
"He grew up with baseball, loves baseball, was a pitcher and unfortunately he can't play baseball anymore," said Venables Bell & Partners Creative Director Will McGinniss. "So what we're attempting to do is bring the stadium to him."
Ryan Cook, who encouraged the A's to get involved with the project, pumped up the crowd before LeGrande's pitch and talked to him via camera on the mound afterwards.
"When we come to Kansas City, we'll try to make a visit and hang out for a little while," Cook told LeGrande. "Congratulations, bud."
The experience made a great early birthday present for LeGrande, who will turn 14 on Thursday.