As most of you have heard, Josh Smith passed away just one week before Veto League Baseball's Opening Weekend. No doubt, Josh Smith would have found himself at Ridgewood Field had he still been with us today.
Smith's obituary can be found HERE.
I just wanted to share my thoughts on Smith's passing....
It's with a heavy heart that I forward some tragic news - the passing of Veto Leaguer and friend, Josh Smith.
While I don't know many details other than what's been circulated around, I'm told he was at a concert at the iWireless Center and had a heart attack. He passed away at the hospital at the young age of 33.
Here's what I do know about Josh Smith. Things that no one can ever take away from him.
Even more so than most of us, Josh Smith LOVED Veto League Baseball. Loved. Loved. Loved. I would consider him one of the most dedicated VLBers I've come across in my 15 years of playing in this league. If he didn't have a ride, he'd figure out a way to get to a game. Bike, walk or hitchhike. He'd find a way.
Josh Smith always brought a positive attitude to the baseball field. He would rarely if ever complain about where he was playing on the field or hitting in the lineup. Because of that, he was one of those players I'd always make sure to draft as a Goonie.
Josh Smith loved to joke around. He talked so much that, admittedly, I'd often tune him out, but I'd still hear players laughing at whatever he was talking about. He was definitely "one of the guys".
Josh Smith had a lot of stories. Funny stories. A few of which may have been true, many which he may have stretched the truth. Like that one time he had an unfortunate run-in with the law. As he told it - he accidentally slept in a random strangers car after a long night in the District and was woken up by a police taser. "Can they really tase me for that?" he asked, "I was drunk, I didn't know what I was doing!" But the true stories were just as amusing. Like the time he went to a River Bandits game and got a real life permanent Rascal the Raccoon Bandit tattooed on his arm just so he could get free tickets for the rest of the season.
Josh Smith first played Veto League in 2006. He was instantly hooked, being one of the top five in games played that season and winning the Rookie of the Year award, coming in second overall for Most Valuable Player. I specifically remember him always showing up to Veto games clad in a Moline Maroon baseball uniform.
Josh Smith is 9th in career games played with 181. He's in the top 10 in every major category. He played in five night games. His dedication to the league made him a captain. His team - the Turtles. Or should I say (in a very low pitch voice) Turrrrrrrrtlesss!!!
One of my most memorable Josh Smith moments had to have been Saturday, September 3, 2016. Milan Little League Complex. Anyone who played in this game knows what I'm talking about. Josh Smith had played in 180 games without an outside-the-park homerun. The longest tenured player to have never hit one. Career game #181 (and, unfortunately, his final VLB game ever). Smith smokes a liner that wouldn't stop carrying until it landed beyond the center field fence. Homerun. Smith excitedly trotted around the bases. Awesome in itself, but in true Josh Smith fashion, he wasn't done making memories that day. Several innings later, a ball gets stuck on top the fence behind home plate. Thirty feet in the air. Josh Smith, wearing a pair of rubbermaid shoes, starts to scale the rickety rusty fence to retrieve it. Predictably, he gets stuck, can't get the ball, can't get down, and he's 20 feet in the air. So what's he do? Jumps, of course. Fractured foot. Chalk it up to another Josh Smith memory that'll be with me forever.
I'll never forget Josh Smith, and I believe those of you lucky enough to spend a season or more with him won't either. It'll be weird playing baseball this spring without him there.
Rest in Peace #3. Gone but never forgotten.