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 8-year-old kid, she wants to do things like hold bike handles and play baseball. In fact, Hailey recently accomplished her goal of throwing out the first pitch at every stadium in the major leagues.
And the teams of the MLB were 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
Hailey Dawson throws out the opening pitch with her 3-D printed hand before the game between the Washington Nationals and the Texas Rangers at Nationals Park on June 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
That was just the start of Hailey's MLB journey. In June 2017, Hailey threw the first pitch at a game between the Washington Nationals and the Texas Rangers at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
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.
In just little over a year, Hailey achieved her goal of throwing the opening pitch at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums with her final pitch at the Los Angeles Angel Stadium on Sept. 16, 2018.
And the Angels were more than happy to have Hailey on their mound.
Editor's note: This article has been updated since it was originally published in September 2017.