Telerobotics helps sick teen toss a baseball 1,800 miles

Stricken with a rare blood disease, 13-year-old Nick LeGrande threw out the first pitch before Wednesday's A's-Yankees game thanks to a telerobotic pitching machine.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
Using this telerobotic pitching machine, 13-year-old Nick LeGrande threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Oakland A's game at the Oakland Coliseum Wednesday -- from 1,800 miles away. Travis LoDolce/Oakland A's

There are some baseball players known for their strong arms, but a lot of people probably stood up and took notice when 13-year-old Nick LeGrande threw a baseball 1,800 miles today.

Before you scoff at the physical impossibility of such a notion, take solace in the fact that technology was very much behind LeGrande's feat, telerobotics to be precise. The Kansas City, Mo., teen, who suffers from severe aplastic anemia, a rare blood disease, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Oakland A's-New York Yankees game in Oakland, Calif., tonight.

LaGrande throws his pitch in Kansas City, Mo., and in Oakland, Calif., the telerobotic pitching machine completed the toss. Oakland A's
13-year-old Nick LeGrande Nick LeGrande

But because LeGrande is too sick to attend live baseball games, he had to toss the ball from Kansas City. Google, which has offices there, set up a special "mini baseball stadium," according to a release, where he threw his pitch. At the same time, the telerobotic pitching machine, which was set up on the mound in Oakland, tracked LeGrande's motion and completed the pitch. A's pitcher Ryan Cook caught LeGrande's throw.

To be certain, this was a gimmick, but it surely made LeGrande's day. A big A's fan and a former Little League player, LeGrande got to have an experience he will never forget.

Update (Wednesday, 8:35 p.m. PDT): This story now includes photos of the event.