Cover, Features

Josh Reddick: Effingham’s Mr. October

story by Julie Hales

photos by Andrew Yousse, Photographer for Houston Astros

You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end, it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.

                                                                                              ~Jim Bouton

HISTORY

     Baseball surely has a grip on Josh Reddick. For the most part, it’s had a grip on him his entire life. Josh started playing T-Ball in Effingham when he was only 4 years old. Now, at age 30, he is still ‘in the game.’

     Kenny and Cheryl Reddick really didn’t know what to expect when their five year old son told them he wanted to play in the Major Leagues. Most parents would brush that off as a childhood whim, but these parents didn’t do that.

     Cheryl shares, “We supported him in every way we could. We wanted to make sure he had every opportunity to succeed.” Kenny coached Josh and his team mates in the county recreation department and they paid his way to gain more experience through travel ball.

     Josh then played high school ball for the South Effingham Mustangs under the leadership of Coach Kirkland, a man he admires and admits helped him find success on the ball field.

     Middle Georgia College was his next stop in his baseball career. Josh was named Region XVII Junior College Player of the Year during his short time there. As a freshman outfielder, he led the conference with a .461 batting average, he scored 57 runs on 89 hits, seven of which were homeruns and had 33 RBI’s…not bad for a college freshman.

     In 2006, Josh Reddick was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 17th round of the MLB Draft. Yes, MLB stands for Major League Baseball.  This guy’s dream was coming true.

     In 2011, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics where he played right field for his first full year in the majors. “It was a different team with different dynamics. It was very different from Minor League baseball,” says Josh about his beginning experiences with the Oakland A’s.

     But, he adapted very well. It was here, in 2012, that Josh won the Golden Glove Award.

     In 2016, Josh found himself being traded again…next home…Los Angeles. As a Dodger, Josh was immediately headed to the playoffs.  He loved playing with them and there was a much larger excitement level there than he had experienced in Oakland.

     But, his time in LA was short lived…Josh found himself being a free agent.  However, his free-agency was very short lived.  He says, “Houston came calling pretty quickly.” This made the transition a very smooth one for our favorite right fielder.

     It was in Houston where Josh continued to flourish and his Major League career reached new heights.  Here, OUR major leaguer accomplished the dream every little leaguer dreams about…Josh Reddick is now a World Series Champion!

THE MAN

     Anyone who knows him knows there is a little boy lurking somewhere within the man.  There aren’t many professional ball players that have as much fun as Josh Reddick. He will be the first one to tell you that he likes to make it fun…whether it be Spiderman climbing the fence to steal a homerun or his love for wrestling that has traveled with him wherever he goes…even to his new home, now better known by Reddick fans as “Wooston,” he is having fun.

    And, that man remembers where he came from and what it was like to be that little boy with big aspirations.

     “Winning the World Series is a childhood dream come true.  That’s any kid’s dream as a five year old in the backyard putting that scenario through their head of game 7 of the World Series, and going through the motions in the back yard of winning it. Being able to live through that is something I feel is the accomplishment of my childhood dream,” he shares.

     Most people in Effingham County have followed his career.  Many watched him play as a child in the recreation league, others followed his high school career and on to college.  Some may have only started following him when he was picked up in the MLB draft.  But, whenever they became a fan, they remained a fan.

     As a fan, they all experienced the excitement of watching him play in the big leagues and making it to the World Series. They shared in the excitement of every inning of every game.  But, no one can imagine the excitement Josh himself was feeling.

     When the series came down to game 7, the excitement turned into anxiety for many.  But, the Houston Astros proved to us all they were indeed the best team in the nation. Josh shares, “I was so excited.  My heart was racing the entire 9th inning. I remember sitting in the dugout next to Carlos Beltran, who had just recently retired. Knowing that he wouldn’t be back and being able to experience something like that with him, it being my first one and his first one in such a different age group, it was just amazing. My heart was racing. There was just so much excitement. I don’t think I have ever sprinted as fast my whole life as I did onto that field when that last out was made.”

     When Josh was asked what it felt like to be a World Series champ, he shares, “It feels really great.  I am trying to find special words to explain it. Awesome is the word I keep going back to.  Being able to hold that World Series trophy and knowing I am going to be able to bring it to Effingham for a few days. To be able to share that with my hometown is going to be something that I am going to enjoy and hopefully bring some smiles around the county as well. I want to be able to share it with the hometown that I love so much and try to help out as much as I can, the town that gives me so much back to me personally.  It is just going to be a special moment.”

     Josh is very close to his family. This man knows, and loves, his roots. Having his family at the World Series was very important to him. “I couldn’t imagine it without them.  To be in my first World Series, to have all my family around, my best friend and my girlfriend, all my loved ones, to be able to experience this with them, whether win or lose, it showed how much support I had.  I really wanted them all to be there. I can still look back to before I was in the big leagues, to when I was playing travel ball and when I was in the minors,  they all came to watch me play and supported  me and I felt they all deserved to be there. They all helped me get to where I am today,” he says.

     On his first trip home after the series, Josh was surprised with a huge pep rally at South Effingham High School.  Coaches, family, students, county officials and others were there to show their support. He says, “I was shocked. I was told to come to the high school and I really didn’t know why or what to expect.  Knowing Trey (President of the Josh Reddick Foundation), there’s not really much you don’t expect.  The sky is the limit with him. I know how crazy he can be and how crazy this foundation can be. I was very thankful for what the people at South Effingham High did for me. To be supported like that as a high school alumni there, made me feel really special.”

THE JOSH REDDICK FOUNDATION

     Since its inception in 2014, the Josh Reddick Foundation has been on a mission to advocate for the youth of Effingham County with a focus on supporting students, preserving recreational parks and helping those in need.

     The Foundation hosts all charitable events in Effingham County and the money raised is given back to the community.  Portions of all money raised go toward the recreation departments as well as the sheriff’s office, fire departments, animal shelter, the Manna house, the Treutlan House and others.

     The Foundation also gives money back to the Board of Education by being a platinum level sponsor to both Effingham County High and South Effingham High.  They also gave money to each elementary school this year and have plans to give to each middle school in the Effingham School District.

     In July, the Foundation started accepting nominations for “The Josh Reddick Athlete of the Month.” The first winner was recognized in August and the contest is open to any athlete residing in Effingham County from 6th grade up.

     Athletics are not the only focus of the Foundation.  Each year, the organization awards four graduating seniors, one male and one female from each high school, a $1000 college scholarship for academic excellence.

     Josh’s desire to give back to this community has remained evident in everything he does. The Foundation is an avenue where he can continue to do this. When speaking about the Foundation, Josh shares, “In the off season, it means everything to me.  To be able to come back and run a few events and be able to give back to this county that I love so much is important to me.  I just really enjoy trying to help this county to improve  on what we  already have. If there is any way I can help, to kind of leave my mark, it makes me feel good inside to give back. This is where I got my start, this is where it all began.  I feel like I have to give back to it, to be able to help the next generation as much as I can. We are all supposed to leave it better for the ones behind us.”

THE ‘MIRACLE FIELD’

     With Houston having suffered so much devastation from the hurricane earlier this year, the World Series title was something each player desperately wanted to bring home.  Even with it being Josh’s first year in Houston, he still found himself on the streets and in the neighborhoods doing what he could to help these victims…that is the Josh Reddick Effingham County has grown to love.

     This man is always giving.  And, his biggest gift is going to be something absolutely amazing for all of Effingham County.

     The groundbreaking ceremony for the Josh Reddick Field was recently held at the new Clarence E. Morgan Sports Complex in Springfield.  This field is being built with a gift of one million dollars by Josh so that all the youth of Effingham will have a place to play.

     This will be a turf field which is being built to be accessible to children with special needs.  Josh feels like every child in our community should have the same opportunities to play, to live their dream.

     One of the most important messages Josh wanted to relay in this story was his thanks to Effingham County for all their support of him throughout his career.  Well Josh, we want to thank you for all you do for the people in Effingham County!

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