All Heart: The Josh Reddick Foundation Elevates Effingham Community
All Heart: The Josh Reddick Foundation Elevates Effingham Community
Story by Cindy Reid
Josh Reddick is an extraordinarily talented baseball player. His stats, his career, his World Series Championship, they all add up—rightly—to a permanent position as an Effingham “Hometown Hero.”
But it’s what Josh has done with his fame and fortune that changes the picture—that elevates Josh—and in so doing, elevates our community.
By kind acts and extreme generosity, by seeing the often unseen kids who need to be seen, by putting the financial resources into athletes who play with all their heart, Josh has transcended ’hero’ and become the heart of his hometown and we are all the better for it.
High School to Major League
A local kid, Josh attended South Effingham High School in Guyton, Ga. As a Mustang, he went from shortstop to the outfield during his junior year, graduating in 2005. He then attended Middle Georgia State College for one year, playing baseball in the NJCAA, and was named the 2006 Region XVII Junior College Player of the Year after hitting .462 with seven homers and 35 RBI.
The Boston Red Sox selected Josh in the 17th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball June Amateur Draft, and he made his major league debut in 2009. He has since played for the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros, and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Josh has had a stellar career, including winning the American League (AL) Gold Glove Award in 2012, the first outfield Gold Glove awarded to an A’s player since 1985. Of course, the pinnacle was winning the 2017 World Series Championship as a key player on the Houston Astros team.
But throughout Josh’s trajectory to the top, he has kept it real with people he grew up with here in Effingham by becoming increasingly involved with the community and ultimately creating the Josh Reddick Foundation (JRF) as a way to channel his generosity to those who need it the most.
The Josh Reddick Foundation
The Josh Reddick Foundation’s mission is to be an advocate for the youth and those in need in our community. JRF is “Working to create a better future for our youth” through many avenues, including scholarships, monetary donations, sponsorships and community fundraisers.
This alone would have been more than enough for most people, in fact most people probably wouldn’t have done half of his charitable giving. But clearly Josh isn’t most people because in 2017 he gave back in a way no one ever expected.
“Josh always knew that if he made it to the Major Leagues he would give back as much as he could to his hometown. He wanted to leave a legacy, something that the youth of today and tomorrow could take advantage of. When the opportunity arose, Josh couldn’t pass it up.” (www.joshreddickfoundation.org)
Clarence E. Morgan, Director of Recreation and Sports Management for Effingham County, says in 2017, shortly after work had started on the 120-acre Clarence E. Morgan Complex in Springfield, he got a call from the Josh Reddick Foundation.
Morgan states, “The President of the JRF, Trey Saxon, said Josh wants to build a field. I met with Trey and Jan Landing, JRF Treasurer, and we talked about different possibilities for a new field. Walking out to the parking lot, Jan said she had gotten a call from the (Effingham County) Navigators asking about playing fields. That gave me an idea so I said let’s make it a turf field so all kids can play on it. They brought it to Josh, and he said ’go for it’ so that’s what we did,” Morgan says. “The good Lord works in mysterious ways.”
The Josh Reddick Stadium at the Clarence E. Morgan Complex
Josh donated nearly $1 million of his own money to build a field that could be accessed by all realms of individuals and athletes. The groundbreaking was held on November 18, 2017, and the grand opening of the Josh Reddick Stadium was on July 21, 2018.
The field features 100% artificial turf, which allows children who use wheelchairs or have other mobility challenges to play on the field. The handicapped-accessible dugouts are level with the playing field, eliminating stairs, making it the area’s only fully accessible baseball field for children with special needs. Josh wanted to make sure no kids were left out of the opportunity to experience baseball.
The field is regulation Little League size and the stadium features stadium seats behind home plate and bleacher seats with backs. It also has a 100 ft. x 15 ft. wall in right field dubbed the "Redd Monster” in honor of Josh’s time with the Boston Red Sox and their famous “Green Monster” wall.
Josh followed the progress on the stadium’s construction closely despite being across the country with the Houston Astros. After the Grand Opening, he woke up to dozens of pictures and videos that were sent to him from all over the country. He is beyond proud of how Josh Reddick Stadium turned out. It truly is a dream come true. (www.joshreddickfoundation.org/stadium)
In keeping with Josh’s goal for the new stadium, the first game was played by the Effingham County Navigators, a team of children with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their siblings. They all proudly wore Josh’s number 22 jerseys for the game.
Pauline Shaw, who has been involved with the Navigators since 2010, says, “In the past we had to play on a clay field, and we had kids quit because their wheelchairs wouldn’t work in the clay. The Josh Reddick Stadium is the only opportunity for them because of the turf field and accessible dugouts.”
She says playing at the stadium is something the players and their families look forward to, “The kids love getting dressed up and going there to play ball. When they walk through the gates they are pumped up!”
The lasting impact of the Josh Reddick Stadium is already being felt. Because of the opportunities from the field, two of the Navigators have earned their high school varsity letters, which is not something that happens routinely.
“The strength of inclusion is very powerful,” says Pauline. “It would not have been possible without the Josh Reddick Stadium. We appreciate Josh for who he is, and the foundation works so hard—there is nothing we could do or say to thank them. All our families know who made this happen and we are all so appreciative.”
Today at 22-Josh Reddick Way
As of 2021, the Josh Reddick Stadium has been used for more than 600 games, including recreation department uses, travel tournaments and the Special Olympics. The Navigators use the field for two seasons of sports—baseball in the spring and soccer in the fall. Morgan says in addition to being vital to the needs of children, the stadium has been an economic success.
“Tournaments make it a ’destination field’ to market their tournaments. And that’s good because every single time a family comes out to a game that adds to the county revenue. It is an economic boost for the whole area.”
Educational Giving & More
In addition to the baseball stadium, the JRF is very involved with giving to the educational community. The foundation has made two donations of $10,000—one to South Effingham High School and the other to Effingham County High School, plus $5,000 to whichever high school hosted the county rivalry football game each year for the last four years.
Josh Reddick Foundation Scholarships in the amount of $1,000 are awarded to two seniors at each high school every year to help deserving students pursue higher education. The foundation continues to give money back to the Board of Education by being a platinum level sponsor to both Effingham County High and South Effingham High and donating money to each elementary school.
In honor of his achievements, the South Effingham High School Mustangs were very proud to retire the #24 jersey that was worn by Josh during his high school career. It now resides in a showcase at the school.
The JRF also conducts fundraisers and portions of all money raised go toward the recreation departments as well as the sheriff’s office, fire departments, animal shelters, the Manna House, the Treutlen House, and more. They collaborate with many community partners including the collegiate summer league team the Savannah Bananas to find ways to better serve those in need.
Along with the almost one million dollars donated to build the Josh Reddick Stadium, educational giving, the donations to The Manna House and the Treutlen House at New Ebenezer, the total amount given to the community by Josh and the Josh Reddick Foundation is up to over 1.1 million dollars so far.
Josh has also been actively involved with military veterans and their families. In 2019 he was Bob Feller Act of Valor Award nominee for contributing his time and resources towards providing a positive experience for military veterans and their families.
He has also been a member of the Taylor Hooton Foundation Advisory Board since 2015, which advocates against appearance and performance enhancing drug use.
Clarence Morgan says “People don’t come close to knowing what Josh does quietly and without publicity. Food drives, shoes he sent here to be given away, sponsoring games, he has done much more than the ball field. He has been generous to the county for years. Josh has made us proud. Now his legacy will be the Josh Reddick Stadium, to be used by generations of children.”
“Here’s a true story” says Pauline, “One night Josh snuck into town, came out to the field, and watched the kids play a game. He talked to all the kids, signed balls, and took all the pictures they wanted. No press, no photo ops. He flew in and flew out under the radar. That’s the kind of man Josh Reddick is.”
Josh and his wife Jett are the parents of twin boys Maverick Joshua and Ryder Blaze. For more information on Josh and the Josh Reddick Foundation visit www.joshreddickfoundation.org | instagram: @realjoshreddick | facebook.com/josh.reddick.104