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World Series champ receives hero's welcome at alma mater
Houston Astros outfielder Josh Reddick enters the South Effingham gym Friday, drawing a rousing ovation. Reddick graduated from South Effingham in 2005. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

GUYTON -- Josh Reddick's moral compass keeps him pointed in a homeward direction.

The newly crowned World Series champion returned to his alma mater Friday to a hero's welcome, drawing cheers from South Effingham's entire study body in a gym decorated in Houston Astros colors in his honor.

Reddick, who entered the gym through a tunnel of pompoms held by Mustangs cheerleaders, graduated from South Effingham in 2005.

"We just wanted to take a moment, Josh, to tell you how proud we are of you and how you represent South Effingham High School and all of Effingham County," South Effingham Athletic Director Jeff Faith said.

Reddick, an outfielder, helped the Astros clinch the seven-game World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Nov. 1.

 "It's pretty special -- what we went through and the way we accomplished that goal," Reddick said. 

The Astros, losers of 111 games just four years ago, had to deal with the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey and a summer swoon. Still, they ran away from the pack in the American League West, winning the division by 21 games over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Reddick joined Houston as a free agent in November 2016, signing a 4-year, $52 million deal. He rewarded the team by batting .314 with 13 home runs and 82 RBI.

 "Just to be able to play in a World Series game, I think, is something I knew wanted to accomplish, something my family wanted to accomplish together," he said. "For them to be there was something special. I had all my family there, my friends, girlfriend.

"I was able to share it with the people I care the most about."

Reddick, sporting a cap with "The Ham" written on it, cares a great deal about his community, too. His Josh Reddick Foundation backs his alma mater and Effingham County High School financially. He also donated nearly $1 million for a turf baseball field to be built at the Clarence E. Morgan Complex in Springfield. Ground for it will be broken Saturday morning.

"There's still a lot of South Effingham pride in me," Reddick said. "I love Effingham very much -- both sides. ... Effingham is my home. It will always be my home and I feel like it's kind of my job to help out."