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County unwraps Reddick's gift
Effingham County Recreation and Parks Department Director Clarence Morgan faces the flag behind the right-field wall during the playing of the national anthem Saturday. The right-field wall is dubbed "The Redd Monster" in honor of Houston Astros outfielder Josh Reddick, who donated $1 million toward the cost of the stadium. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

SPRINGFIELD — The impact of a community hero’s generous gift revealed itself quickly Saturday. The faces of the first players to ever grace the field at Josh Reddick Stadium reflected the spirt of the occasion.

After a ribbon-cutting ceremomy complete with speeches by area dignitaries, members of the Effingham County Navigator Team — an advocacy group for children with special needs — carried huge smiles with them as they circled the bases in the state-of-the-art facility’s inaugural game.

“You can’t find words, and I don’t think it has sunk in on anybody what we’ve got here,” said Clarence Morgan, director of the Effingham County Recreation and Department and namesake of the new athletic complex on Hwy 21 where the stadium stands. “I refer to the other side of the park as the Cadillac and this is our Lamborghini. You can go across the United States and never find a place like this where recreation kids can play a ball game.”

The stadium, which features artificial turf, wheel-chair accessible dugouts and a roof over a large seating area that is serviced by fans, is the brainchild of Houston Astros outfielder Josh Reddick, an Effingham County native. He donated $1 million for the project 10 months ago.

“To take Josh’s vision and turn it into reality is super cool,” said Trey Saxon, president of the Josh Reddick Foundation. “To be able to share it with everybody in a town that we both grew up in is pretty cool as well.”

Reddick was unable to attend the grand opening because the Astros were in California for a weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels. He was in attendance when ground was broken for the stadium last fall.

“Y’all are so fortunate to have someone who remembers where they are from — someone like Josh Reddick,” First District Congressman Buddy Carter said. “... We are so proud of him and so grateful that he has blessed us with this stadium, giving of his resources so that so many people will enjoy it in the future.”

See the July 25 edition of the Effingham Herald for the rest of the story.