Even the T-shirts that were available Saturday showed how adept Josh Reddick is taking things, namely home runs, away. But the T-shirts, and the event at Crosswinds Golf Club, were all about the Oakland Athletics outfielder desire to give back to his community.
The former South Effingham High School star and Effingham County native has started the Josh Reddick Foundation, and the new organization held its inaugural fundraising golf tournament, welcoming 23 teams to Crosswinds. A chilly morning greeted competitors but the day quickly warmed up.
“We had a lot of guys come out here,” said Reddick, “and that’s all that matters.”
Reddick and his close-knit friends and family started the foundation this summer.
“The main goal is to do anything we can to improve Effingham County,” Reddick said.
The first order of business, Reddick said, is to repair available ball fields, and the ultimate aim is to build a baseball-only field, one that isn’t subject to the wear and tear from football and soccer games.
“It will be strictly baseball to have tournaments and rec league games,” he said.
The foundation also hopes it can provide support, eventually, for local police and fire departments.
The money raised through the golf tournament and silent auction also could sustain scholarships for local scholar-athletes. The idea for creating $1,000 scholarships was broached this summer, and Reddick, who attended Middle Georgia College for a year before being drafted to play professional baseball, emphatically endorsed it.
“It is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” he said. “Every little bit helps in college, speaking from a personal experience. I was able to get a full ride; my parents weren’t out of pocket for anything. For those kids whose parents can’t afford it, this will give them a little bit of help, whether it’s toward tuition or a meal plan. Every little bit helps, and that’s all we’re here to do.”
Reddick didn’t tee it up with the competitors Saturday morning. Instead, he rode the course greeting and chatting with the teams, and he expressed his gratitude for the sponsors who backed the event and the golfers who bundled up against the early chill before the day eventually warmed up.
“It makes it easier when you’re in a small county that you know most of the county already. It makes that much easier to get guys out here,” he said. “Even the people I didn’t know, I got to know them a little bit today and it’s been a fun experience to see that many people show up on a cold morning.
“I can’t be anything but happy with it.
“This tournament took a lot of energy out of myself and my committee. They did a great job. I couldn’t be more thankful of the sponsors.”
He posed for pictures with each team and there was a silent auction of sports memorabilia. The items included jerseys, cleats and batting gloves signed by Reddick, jerseys signed by Dustin Pedroia, Jorge Posada and Matt Ryan, bats signed by Posada and David Wright and signed baseballs from Raul Ibanez, Gio Gonzalez, Bobby Parnell and Jonathan Papelbon.
Offseason workouts for Reddick, who just completed his third full season with Oakland and his sixth major-league campaign, already have started. He won’t start baseball-related activities until after the new year, which means he didn’t swing a bat or a driver during the tournament Saturday — though he may do both eventually this winter.
“As much as I wanted to play, it was probably better I didn’t,” he said. “It was probably better I was riding around all day, socializing with everybody. I got to be personable, talk to everybody. It was a good day overall.”
For more on the Josh Reddick Foundation, visit joshreddickfoundation.org.