My wife and I attended the State College Spikes game on July 27, and we were treated to something extra special besides witnessing another dramatic last-inning, come-from-behind State College victory.
Nine-year old Josiah Viera, who was born with progeria, a rare, fatal genetic condition, was the Spikes special guest for the evening, and it was truly amazing to watch the young ballplayers interact with this little fellow. Josiah had his own official cap, ball, bat, glove and game jersey, was team captain for the night, threw out the first pitch, and presented the starting lineup card to the umpires.
He watched the game from the dugout, and was never without at least one Spikes player by his side the entire night.
Most touching, however, was after the game ended and the fireworks show was over, with the crowd filing out and very little light left on the field, there was a re-enactment of the game-winning hit, with Josiah as the hero. Led by Mitch Harris, the entire team cheered Josiah as he rounded the bases, and when he reached home plate he was greeted as if he had just won the World Series single-handedly.
As he was passed from shoulder to shoulder among the cheering players and accepting the wave of high-fives, his smile absolutely lit up the night. These outstanding young men likely gave Josiah one of the greatest nights of what will probably and sadly be an all-too-short life.
Well played, Spikes. Very, very well played.
Brett W. Tyson