Georgia star gives his all on the field and off.
Story By Dean Rowland
Josh Reddick knows a thing or two about playing baseball. He always knows a thing or two about Georgia and why it’s important to give back to the community that gave to him as a kid.
Reddick, 32, born in Savannah and raised in Guyton, has been a professional baseball player for 11 years. He’s firmly ensconced in right field for the Houston Astros and won a World Series ring two years ago.
He turned his love of the sport into a modern $1 million fully accessible baseball complex in his home county last summer, thanks to a donation from his foundation. A few hundred locals attended the ribbon-cutting last July for the christening of Josh Reddick Stadium.
These days, he’s hitting well, he’s physically healthy and he’s very happy, having married his long-time sweetheart Jett in January.
He credits “God-given talent” and training, hard work and love of the sport for the success he has achieved.
LOCAL Life caught up with Reddick recently in Houston a few hours before a night game.
Here are some excerpts from that conversation:
[LOCAL Life] Growing up in Guyton, Ga., and playing school baseball, did you ever imagine you would play in the major leagues for 11 years and earn a World Series ring (with Houston two years ago)? [Josh Reddick] The ultimate goal was to succeed and get to the big leagues and follow that childhood dream. I don’t think there was any doubt that I was going to make it. Deep down I was going to make this and make it a life I always wanted. It’s a dream come true. From early on I knew I was going to make it, from 5 years old…My parents always asked me, ‘What’s your backup plan?’ and I told them I didn’t have one. It was this plan or no plan.
[LL] You originally played shortstop in school, then switched to the outfield. Was that your idea? [JR] Absolutely not, it was (coach) Tony Kirkland’s decision. He saw my first game and said, “You’re going to be my right fielder.” I was so mad at him because deep down I thought I was the best shortstop around. But being an outfielder then is what made me the outfielder I am today. We’re still good friends today.
[LL] You made an out at the plate in your first at-bat as a major leaguer in 2009 and the next game you hit two doubles. Two days later you hit your first home run. Describe the experience over that three-day period. [JR] It was a lifetime achievement, and the thrill of getting that call to come to the big leagues. It was heart-racing. It was a very exciting time for me because I was a 22-year-old kid. It was insane. Three years prior to that I saw them win a World Series.
[LL] You earned a Gold Glove for defense in 2012. Describe your style of play as an outfielder, as a ballplayer. [JR] When I play the outfield, it’s all about doing what I can do to make that play. If I have to jump over a wall, dive, hit the wall, I’m willing to do that. I’m 110 percent in the outfield. It’s my job.
[LL] How much did it bother you being traded three times in your 20s? [JR] The hardest part is meeting new guys. In baseball, we’re so close and welcome each other. We’re brothers and we’re so connected to the game. We just want to win and play the game the right way.
[LL] You’ve earned millions playing baseball. Has it changed who you are as a person? [JR] I don’t think so, maybe a tad. I may have a few more nicer things, but I don’t think it’s changed me as a person or my personality. I’m still that guy from Effingham County who wants to sit back, have a good time and go fishing.
[LL] How much did growing up in Georgia influence you? What’s the best thing about growing up there? [JR] I think growing up in a small town made me appreciate the smaller things in life. We couldn’t afford the nice things. I learned to appreciate what I had. Having my dad around (especially after he was electrocuted at work, lost part of his left arm and mobility of the fingers in his right hand) helped me not to take anything for granted.
[LL] Your foundation donated $1 million to build a state-of-the-art baseball complex in Springfield, Effingham County. Why did you do this? [JR] It goes back to high school. I always wanted to build something like that for the kids and the next generations to have something nice to play on. Growing up, I had nothing like that. The idea was to focus on every kid, whether they were in a baseball tournament or special needs kids who wanted to get out there to experience what we do every day. You can touch a lot of hearts when you look out there and see these kids who might not get this opportunity, to get this opportunity. The smiles on their faces light up.
[LL] Do you still connect with friends and people you grew up with? [JR] Absolutely, two of my closest friends in the whole world still live in the Effingham area. My best friend comes out to see me all the time.