BALTIMORE -- Orioles center fielder Adam Jones had been keeping tabs on 9-year-old Zion Harvey for about a year.
So when Harvey, the first child in the world to undergo a bilateral hand transplant last summer, was finally able to throw, Jones made sure he would get one special toss -- a ceremonial first pitch before the Orioles' 5-1 win against the Rangers on Tuesday night.
"Zion Harvey is a trooper," Jones said. "And the pitch he threw I might've chased."
It was a fitting start to a great night for Jones and the O's. Behind seven shutout innings from Dylan Bundy, two home runs from Pedro Alvarez, and naturally a homer from Jones in the leadoff spot, Baltimore got a big win over Yu Darvish and Texas. In a battle of two postseason favorites and two of the busier teams leading up to Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Orioles emerged victorious. And Harvey certainly played a special part in the evening.
Harvey, who is from Owings Mills, Md., threw the ceremonial first pitch to Jones. It was a special moment that had been a long time coming.
Ever since the operation at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Harvey has spent the last year working to regain hand function and the ability to throw a baseball. It took months of rigorous hand therapy sessions, but it was all worth it when Harvey, clad in a white Orioles jersey, took to the field at Camden Yards.
Zion has been fighting all his life. At the age of 2, he developed sepsis, a life-threatening infection that attacked his entire body and eventually required amputation of both of his hands and his legs below the knee. The infection also damaged Zion's kidneys and two years later, he underwent an organ transplant, receiving a kidney from his mother, Pattie Ray, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
The hospital's article on Harvey also notes that Pattie brought her son in 2012 to get fitted with prosthetic hands. Instead, his doctors, Scott Kozin and his partner Dan Zlotolow, had a more radical solution: hand transplants.
It is because of this incredible procedure that Harvey was able to take a baseball in his hands, an ear-to-ear grin on his face as he threw Jones his pitch. Several hours later, Jones homered, to cap the special night.