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Examiner
  • Special first pitch opens tourney

  • Nick LeGrande, a 14-year-old who lives in Lake Lotawana, fired a strike across the plate Wednesday night to highlight the opening ceremonies of the 25th Annual American Legion Wood Bat Invitational at Hidden Valley Park in Blue Springs.

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  • Nick LeGrande, a 14-year-old who lives in Lake Lotawana, fired a strike across the plate Wednesday night to highlight the opening ceremonies of the 25th Annual American Legion Wood Bat Invitational at Hidden Valley Park in Blue Springs.
    LeGrande received national attention a few weeks ago when he "threw" the opening pitch at an Oakland A's game from Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City on June 12.
    LeGrande suffers from aplastic anemia, which prevents him from going to school and playing Little League baseball. He may need a bone marrow transplant if his most recent round of medication does not rid his body of the infection that keeps him from being in crowded situations.
    "I wasn't really nervous tonight," said LeGrande, who threw the pitch from Kansas City to Oakland with the help of Google and a robot on the field at Oakland. "Google wanted to do something like that and I was really excited about being a part of it."
    Oakland A's reliever Ryan Cook caught the ball at the A's game and presented it to LeGrande at his family's home last weekend when Oakland played the Kansas City Royals.
    "Ryan, Sean Doolittle and Jerry Blevins all came to my house and Ryan gave me the ball," LeGrande said. "It's been fun. I was interviewed by ESPN and they did a story about it on ‘Good Morning America.’ I have a YouTube video called ‘Nick's First Pitch’ and it has 38,000 hits.
    HALL OF FAME: Joe Crede, who helped the Chicago White Sox win the 2005 World Series, was inducted into the Wood Bat Hall of Fame. Because of a family matter, a representative for Crede was unable to attend the ceremony.
    Crede helped Jefferson City Post 5 win the 1995 Wood Bat Invitational championship, and he was named the tournament MVP that year. Crede played 10 years in the big leagues, nine with Chicago and one with Minnesota.
    SCHOLARSHIP WINNER: Carson Messner was the winner of the Jimmy Meyers $1,000 scholarship, which is given in memory of the late Jimmy Meyers, who was killed by a drunk driver in 1996 when he was 17.
    "Jimmy was two weeks from graduating from high school," said his uncle, Dennis Meyers of Meyers Funeral Home in Blue Springs. "We want to do this to keep Jimmy's name alive. We miss him every day."
    Messner said he was honored to win the scholarship, which includes a written essay from all nominees.
    "Jim (Moran) called me and I met with him and Dennis Meyers, and we talked and I wrote the essay," Messner said. "This is a real honor. To win a scholarship named after Jimmy Meyers makes it even more special."
    BUSTED PIPE DELAY: Rain has played a big role in the 25-year history of the Wood Bat Invitational, but tourney director and co-founder Jim Moran jokingly said, "If we don't get water from the sky, we get it from the ground."
    Page 2 of 2 - A broken water line behind home plate on Field No. 3 at Hidden Valley Park created some headaches for Moran on the first day of the milestone tourney.
    "We only had to move one game," Moran said. "The workers had to dig down about three or three and a half feet to find the broken pipe. Water ran everywhere, but it didn't run any place on the field but right around home plate.
    "We got some dry dirt, filled in the hole and should be ready to go tomorrow."
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     

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