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Reddick gets into foundation swing
Big leaguer, Effingham native has a busy offseason with his charitable arm
josh swings 3
Oakland Athletics outfielder and Effingham County native Josh Reddick takes a cut to wrap up the annual Josh Reddick Foundation Home Run Derby, held Saturday at Sand Hill Park. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

With the big offseason events of his foundation now in the books, Josh Reddick now can look forward to getting ready for spring training.

The annual Josh Reddick Foundation home run derby was held Saturday at Sand Hill Park as the skies cleared in time for the event. While Reddick had aspirations early on of becoming a big leaguer, starting his own hometown charitable foundation developed as his major league career progressed.

“Your dream is just to make it and become a big league guy,” he said. “Once I realized I was going to be an everyday guy up there, why not do it? Why come home and not give anything back? I live in Effingham County. I was born and raised here. I’m going to do everything I can to stay here the rest of my life and try to build the legacy of baseball in Effingham as much as I can.”

Reddick credited Effingham County Recreation and Parks director Clarence Morgan and his staff for their assistance in the annual home run derby. Reddick’s friend Trey Saxon does much of the metaphorical heavy lifting for the concert, though Reddick found out there is literal heavy lifting with the event.

“The derby just runs so smoothly,” said Reddick, about to embark on his fifth full major league season. “I learned a lot last week with the concert and how those things run, with my president and buddy Trey Saxon. He does that stuff for a living. I realized manual labor is involved in that. But these home run derbies, Clarence Morgan does a great job about making our side of it very minimal to set up the merch tables and the cooking part. He comes out here with his crew, and I thank them every year for that because they don’t have to do that. They go out of their way to help us, and that’s what keeps bringing us back every year.”

There were 124 home runs hit Saturday, and Reddick usually donates $20 per homer to the foundation. This time, he made it $50 per dinger, for $6,200. The concert, held Jan. 9 at Rincon’s Freedom Park and headlined by Colt Ford, raised $44,000.

Winners in the home run derby were: girls, ages 10-12 — Jennie Edinger; girls, ages 13-15 — first, Malorie Little, second, Sydney Newberry; boys, ages 10-12 — first, Nicholas Milbrandt, second, Alex Cela; boys, ages 13-15, first, Jeffery Lonon, second, Devin Scott; and adult, first, Colby Rhea, second, Dylan Turman.

Reddick will head to Arizona and the Oakland Athletics’ spring training complex in Mesa after Valentine’s Day. The A’s announced Friday they avoided arbitration with Reddick, signing him to a one-year deal.

Before beginning his trek westward, Reddick has one more item on his to-do list — he wants to see Travis Tritt in concert, and Tritt just happens to be playing in Atlanta on Reddick’s birthday.

“He’s one of the top three I want to see before he’s done,” Reddick said. “That would be one way to do it.”