At the end of summer, Hailey Dawson, 8, stepped up to the plate at Angel Stadium. It is in Anaheim, California. She threw the game’s ceremonial first pitch. By doing so, she also achieved a big goal. It was to throw a pitch at all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums. Hailey did it with what she calls her “robot hand.”
Hailey was born with Poland syndrome. She has a tiny pinky and thumb on one hand. And the three middle fingers are missing. A 3D-printed prosthetic hand lets her hold a baseball.
Yong Dawson is Hailey’s mom. She found a blueprint online for a 3D-printed hand. She asked scientists at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, near their home, to print one for Hailey. They agreed to do it.
In 2015, Yong asked the Baltimore Orioles if Hailey could throw out the first pitch at a game. They said yes. Hailey then met Bryce Harper in 2017. He plays for the Washington Nationals. Hailey asked him if she could throw a first pitch at one of their games. “It’s amazing what you can do when you just ask,” Yong told TIME for Kids.
TRADITION After each pitch, players sign Hailey’s hand.
ANDY CROSS—GETTY IMAGES
After her Nationals pitch, a video of Hailey expressing her dream to pitch at all the MLB stadiums went viral. She then traveled to Houston, Texas, for the 2017 World Series. With three stadiums down and 27 to go, Hailey’s “Journey to 30” was in play. In 2018, she pitched at more than two dozen stadiums in the United States and Canada.
Hailey says she felt “amazing” after completing her Journey to 30 at Angel Stadium on September 16. But she doesn’t plan to take on another challenge like it anytime soon. “Too much traveling,” she says.