Four years ago this time of year, The State College Spikes—the Class A Short Season affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals- were chasing a title-- the first championship title for the team. They ended up accomplishing it by winning the New York-Penn League Championship with Daniel Poncedeleon pitching and  Cardinals first base coach Oliver Marmol as the manager. 

Now there is a book chronicling that year, but the players are not the only stars.

A young boy who stole the hearts of the players is the central figure of A Short Season, by Dave Bohner and Jake Gronsky.

A Short Season is the story of Josiah Viera, who was diagnosed with Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria, a terminal childhood illness at age two. Bohner is the grandpa of Josia, and Gronsky is a former baseball player who met the family in a chance happening—just as his dreams of being a St. Louis Cardinal were coming to an end.

It was during this exciting Spikes season that Josiah discovered his love for baseball and the team adopted him. Readers of STLSportsPage.com will remember the feature that Rob Rains did on this unique relationship that year-- How a 10-Year Old Boy Inspired a Cardinals Minor League Team  to A Championship. Out of that special season came a chance friendship between Gronsky and Bohner that resulted in this book that was published by Sunbury Press .

“Dave and I used to get coffee, and he’d tell me about life, baseball, Josiah, the past, the future, and poured his wisdom over a kid that was just trying to figure it all out,” said Gronsky. “When he mentioned the idea of a doing the book,I stopped him in his tracks and said, “We have to do this.”

Jake was a good baseball player and worked and played at his sport with the goal of being a baseball player. He attended Monmouth University in New Jersey with the goal of following his dream to be a baseball player. He was a good student and excelled in writing with his Communications degree.

“Pro baseball is not just a dream,” said Jake. “It’s a goal. In college I was having success and a good amount of teams were talking to us.”

On Draft Day it looked like he would be a mid-round pick, but the day came and went and he didn’t get picked.

“I never stopped working,” he said. “Sure I was disappointed but I would be out with my dad practicing.”

He signed with the Joliet Slammers of the Frontier League, an independent league, in 2014, and during that season he got a call from the St. Louis Cardinals organization and ended up signing with them.

Gronsky played in Peoria and Palm Beach. His roommate in Peoria was Harrison Bader and another close friend was Paul DeJong.

“I got to play every day in Peoria and i was starting to play well," he said. "I’ll never forget that day I was having a conversation with Harrison, We were talking about my batting average and my play and he said to me, ‘you’re going to make it.’”

The very next day he took a fast ball to the hand and that ended his season. It ended his season of playing but started him on another season-- writing.

“I’m from the State College area and the Cardinals had a team there so they sent me to their rehab doctor there," he said.

He packed up and went home and the first day he reported to the State College Spikes team for his rehab his life changed and it was in such a dramatic way that he felt like it was a Hollywood movie.

“I remember I was in the State College clubhouse and seeing friends,” he said. “Then all of a sudden I hear the elevator “Bing!” and look over and in walks Dave and Josiah.”

At the time, Josiah was a ten-year old boy with special needs that the team had adopted and his grandfather  Dave would bring him around. For some reason Jake and Dave struck up a conversation and arranged to meet for coffee in the start of a friendship that would lead to a career change for Jake.

During his college days,  a professor had seen his talent for writing and had even found literary agents for him.

“Sometimes I had more literary agents than baseball agents,” he remembered looking back on it.

As his friendship deepened with Dave they realized the story of Josiah and his relationship with the State College Spikes had to be told and they were the ones who should write the book.

“If all the pain that led up to me being cut led me to write this story then I am lucky to get this opportunity.”

To order the book: https://www.sunburypressstore.com/A-Short-Season-9781620060223.htm?categoryId=-1