Robot helps KC teen throw first pitch in Oakland

Robot helps KC teen throw first pitch in Oakland

Robot helps KC teen throw first pitch in Oakland

OAKLAND -- Nick LeGrande was told he'd be visiting his grandmother on Wednesday, not tossing out the first pitch at an A's game from 1,800 miles away.

No matter that the Coliseum isn't exactly within driving distance of his home in Kansas City, LeGrande made the first telerobotic first pitch in Major League Baseball history. His family surprised him with what was surely a welcomed birthday present one day before turning 14.

LeGrande has severe aplastic anemia, a rare blood disorder, and can no longer attend games because of his weakened immune system, so Google Fiber helped construct an indoor miniature baseball field at his home, complete with a set of bleachers and grass straight from Kauffman Stadium.

When Google's pitching machine was wheeled out to the mound before the A's faced the Yankees, LeGrande was part of the experience thanks to the live feed on the machine's camera.

With family, friends and his doctors in his ballpark's stands, LeGrande then threw a ball across a sensor that signaled for the machine at the Coliseum to propel the ball into the glove of A's reliever Ryan Cook, who helped bring the opportunity to the attention of the A's organization.

"My girlfriend's older sister works for an advertising company that works for Google," Cook said. "They brought it to her attention and she figured to bring it to my attention. And when she did that, I got obviously really excited about it. I thought it would be an amazing thing to be a part of, to make somebody's dream come true.

"And once it came to me, I started at the bottom of the ladder here at the clubhouse and took it to the Athletics. ... We got nothing but support all the way up, and from there it was pretty seamless and easy for me."

Jeff Kirshman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.