State College Spikes to keep Josiah Viera’s spirit alive this season
Josiah Viera, the State College Spikes former honorary bench coach, will be given another recognition.
Josiah was named as a 2019 inductee to the New York-Penn League Hall of Fame, where his name will be next to sports legends such as Randy Johnson, John Elway, Pete Rose and Wade Boggs, the organization announced Thursday.
“As the oldest, continuously operated Class-A league in professional baseball, the list of players, coaches, field managers, general managers and owners reads like a ‘Who’s Who of Baseball,’ ” Ben Hayes, president of the New York-Penn League, said in a release. “We are proud to induct another class of extraordinary nominees.”
Josiah, who was born with Hutchison-Guilford Progeria syndrome, an extremely rare and incurable rapid-aging condition, died last Christmas Eve at age 14.
His love of baseball first brought Josiah to Medlar Field in 2012, and by 2013, the Spikes brought him in as one of their own, naming him honorary bench coach in 2014 — a position he would hold for five seasons.
Josiah had become a fixture at Spikes game, making the two-hour drive from Schuykill County with his grandfather to every home game until his death. To honor his memory, the Spikes retired Josiah’s No. 10 uniform during their home opener this year. Each player’s uniform also bears a commemorative patch with Josiah’s initials inside a baseball diamond he drew.
His induction will come a year after the 2018 NYPL All-Star Game in State College, where Josiah walked out onto the field unassisted to make the final pitching change, which would mark his last appearance at Medlar Field.
Earlier in the year, Josiah had broken his leg and was unable to walk long distances. This made his unassisted walk to the mound in front of his home fans even more special, Spikes communications manager and play-by-play announcer Joe Putnam said.
“As he walked off the mound, both teams walked up and gave him a standing ovation and the entire crowd gave him a standing ovation. There weren’t a whole lot of dry eyes in the house,” Putnam said. “It was unfortunate, but that was part of the last trip he made here to State College. So it’s part of the lasting image we have of him.”
Josiah will be inducted alongside four-time World Series champion Bernie Williams, the first African American manager in organized baseball Gene Baker, and baseball executive Jane Rogers at the 2019 New York-Penn League All-Star Game on Aug. 21 at Richmond County Bank Ballpark in Staten Island, New York.
Josiah will become the first member of the Spikes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, which was established in 2012.