Hailey Dawson was born with Poland syndrome, a condition that resulted in her not having a right pectoral muscle. This affected the growth of her right hand. She has a pinky finger, a thumb and three what her family call "nubbins" where the other fingers would have grown.
Not having all five fingers hasn't slowed Hailey down, however. She's adept at using her left hand for many tasks, and she refers to her right hand as her "special hand." But, like any 7-year-old kid, she wants to do things like hold bike handles and play baseball. In fact, Hailey wants to throw out the opening pitch at every stadium in the major leagues.
And the teams of the MLB are glad to oblige.
First Camden Yards ...
Three years ago, Hailey's mother, Yong, reached out to the engineers at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas to see if they could help make her a prosthetic hand using 3-D printing techniques. Other prosthetic hands were too expensive, especially for a growing girl like Hailey. The engineers at UNLV were eager to help. The process involved months of scanning and making molds of Hailey's hand, which in turn involved months of Hailey having to sit very still while these things were done. On top of this, there were also long sessions of adjusting the hand's fingers, which follow the motions of Hailey's wrist to open and close, and physical therapy sessions to help Hailey get used to the hand.
All the hard work paid off. In 2015, Hailey threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Baltimore Orioles' Camden Yards. And, best of all, she got to throw the pitch to her favorite player, Manny Machado.
... and then every stadium in the MLB
That was just the start of Hailey's MLB journey. In June, Hailey threw the first pitch at a game between the Washington Nationals and the Texas Rangers at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Hailey Dawson, a 7-year-old pitching prospect and your new personal hero, threw out yesterday's 1st pitch with her 3D-printed robotic hand! pic.twitter.com/wCL9xHRt1O— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 12, 2017
And in case you can't tell, Hailey's pitching hands have been themed to whichever home team's stadium she's in. Her first hand in 2015 was orange, white and black, with the Orioles logo on it, while her Nationals hand sported their colors and symbol. Basically, Hailey has team spirit for days.
And she'll need that team spirit, too. The sports site Bleacher Report posted a video about Hailey and announced her desire to throw out the first pitch for the other 28 teams in the MLB. The response has been, well, enthusiastic.
We would love to have Hailey visit us! Please DM us her info!— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 7, 2017
Such an incredible story. Can you DM us her info so we can reach out?— Mariners (@Mariners) September 7, 2017
We've got a first pitch with Hailey's name on it! Please DM us her information so we can reach out— San Diego Padres (@Padres) September 7, 2017
We are on board! Send her our way!— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) September 7, 2017
For sure. We're in! DM us her info and we'll take it from there.— Pirates (@Pirates) September 7, 2017
Can you make it up to Minnesota, Hailey? DM us your info and we will make it happen!— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) September 7, 2017
We'd love to make it happen! Please DM us her info.— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) September 7, 2017
Similar tweets came in from the Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland A's and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It looks like Hailey's going to be pretty busy next season as she throws the first pitches around North America.