MLB and Google made history this Wednesday. At the beginning of the game between Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees, a first-of-its-kind Web-robotics event happened.
Nick LeGrande, a 13-year old little leaguer suffering from severe aplastic anemia, threw a first pitch like no other. He was 1,800 miles away from the A’s stadium and used a Web-robotics solution at Google’s Kansas City office to throw his first pitch. Google even created a mini stadium, complete with real grass and a real dirt mound for Nick. His pitching motion activated the robot on the mound at the stadium in real-time that actually pitched the baseball to A’s Ryan Cook who was on the home plate. The fans at the stadium watched Nick make history on the jumbotron, and after the pitch, Ryan Cook came over to the robot and spoke into the attached camera to talk with Nick.
The whole event lasted only a few minutes, but what it meant was timeless. Technology is supposed to bring us convenience. It makes things easier. But for this special occasion, technology brought us something so much more. It gave us hope. It empowered us to fulfill a dream of a boy who’s fighting for his life, which otherwise would have been impossible. Streaming was so much more than just delivering video. It was about virtually connecting a little leaguer with his hero for an unforgettable moment that will stay with him for the rest of his life.
It made me so proud to be a part of the industry that continues to push the envelope of what can be done via the Internet, and a big hand goes out to MLB and Google for their care and creativity.