A story that ends in Cooperstown

Massachusetts teen wins trip to Hall of Fame after a visit to his local library

October 30, 2010
Josh Smith of Haverhill, Mass., (front row, second from right) won a trip to the Hall of Fame in the Step Up to the Plate @ Your Library contest. (Craig Muder)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Josh Smith spent much of his summer reading baseball books at the Haverhill (Mass.) Public Library.

But he never thought those books would take him all the way to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame.

Smith visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Saturday as the winner of the annual Step Up to the Plate @ Your Library program. The 14-year-old Red Sox fan got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum with his family, then attended the World Series Gala in the Hall of Fame's Grandstand Theater – watching Game 3 of the Fall Classic between the Giants and the Rangers.

"We're at the Haverhill Public Library at least once a month for an hour-and-a-half, and we bring home about 100 books," Smith said. "We saw the notice for the contest on the counter – I think my grandmother (Joanne Carroll) saw it and we thought we'd enter. But at that point, I didn't even realize what the prize was."

The program, developed by the American Library Association and the Baseball Hall of Fame, recently completed its fifth season when new Hall of Famer Andre Dawson drew Josh's name from entries from around the nation. The winner was randomly chosen from eligible contestants who correctly answered a series of baseball trivia questions developed by the Hall of Fame's library staff.

As the winners, Smith and his family received the trip of a lifetime. Josh's parents Eric and Melanie also made the journey, along with siblings Alex, Amelia and Jesse.

Josh, a diehard Red Sox fan who made his way around the Museum in a Jon Lester T-shirt, said he was most impressed by the Roy Halladay jersey in the Museum's Today's Game exhibit. Halladay, the Philadelphia Phillies' ace, donated the jersey following his National League Division Series no-hitter against the Reds on Oct. 6.

"That was only the second postseason no-hitter ever," said Josh, whose knowledge of baseball history was on display throughout his visit. "You look at these things and realize that they were there at a moment in history – worn by the players who made history."

And even though his Red Sox aren't in the World Series, Josh's visit to Cooperstown this October will be something he never forgets.

"It's pretty cool that after all the years where they came so close, now the Red Sox are expected to win every year," said Josh, who is a part of a new generation of Red Sox fans who have experienced mostly success in the postseason. "I've read about all their heartbreaks – I read everything on baseball I can. But for me, I expect them to win."

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum