Hall of Fame baseball player Tom Seaver is slated to toss the ceremonial first pitch in this year’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday in New York.
Earlier this season, a very different – and special – first pitch occurred.
Nick LeGrande, a boy with baseball dreams, has been sidelined with aplastic anemia, a life-threatening disease that’s damaged the blood stem cells in his bone marrow.
The Oakland Athletics invited the now 14-year-old Kansas City resident to toss out the first pitch on June 12 before their game against the New York Yankees. The problem was the disease left LeGrande’s immune system so weakened that he couldn’t travel.
To accomplish the feat, Google Fiber constructed mini baseball field at its Kansas City campus and a telerobotic pitching machine that was flown to Oakland.
Assisting with the telerobot was Deeplocal, an innovation studio and ad agency in Pittsburgh, Pa. Zach Olshenske, a 2008 aerospace engineering alumnus, served as the lead mechanical engineer on the team that designed and built the robot.
Olshenke said the telerobot was designed to mimic LeGrande’s movement. “For the most part, it was an adjustable pneumatic catapult that was actuated by young Nick’s motions.”
He continued, “The project was made possible by employing Google high-speed Internet so that everything happened in near real time. Nick was also able to operate a camera on the machine so that he could look around the ballpark and interact with players.”
More on the project can be found on Google Fiber’s website at: https://fiber.google.com/about/nicksfirstpitch/.Read More