Effingham County native and Houston Astros outfielder Josh Reddick is donating nearly $1 million to build a state-of-the-art, artificial turf baseball field at the new central recreation complex.
Reddick and Trey Saxon, president of the Josh Reddick Foundation, have been working for months with Clarence Morgan, director of Effingham County Recreation and Parks, and county commissioners to bring the “miracle field” to life.
The field will be part of the new complex being constructed on the west side of Ga. 21 in Springfield.
The artificial turf field will allow children with special needs, in wheelchairs or living with other challenges, to play on a level field and enter dugouts designed with their needs in mind.
“This will be a premier facility that will draw groups from all over Georgia and surrounding states,” Jan Landing, secretary of the foundation, said in making the announcement. “Reddick has been dreaming of doing something like this in his hometown for a while.”
The Josh Reddick Field will be ready for spring 2018 play.
Groundbreaking for the field will be 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18. Reddick will not attend due to a prior commitment elsewhere, but he expects to attend the grand opening of the Clarence E. Morgan Sports Complex Dec. 3. His home-run derby will be held at the complex Dec. 9.
Morgan said the complex itself is a dream and the Reddick field is even more of a dream.
"It's going to be super, super first-class," he said. In addition to the artificial turf, which will be smooth for wheelchairs to traverse, Reddick's field will have a 10-foot by 36-foot scoreboard, first-class stadium seats, great lighting and fences and a brick dugout.
The complex is being named for Morgan, who is known to many as "coach" and has worked in recreation in the county for about 50 years.
“It’s absolutely over-the-top wonderful,” Wesley Corbitt, Effingham County Commission chairman, said of the donation and plans for the field. He said it’s amazing that Reddick gives so much to youth in his home community. “We’re so appreciative.”
Corbitt said he plans to thank Reddick personally but he knows he’s busy right now with the playoffs. “I hope to thank him after they (the Astros) win the World Series,” he said.
Reddick frequently donates to causes in Effingham. In August, he gave $10,000 to each of the county's high schools and $1,000 to the county's animal shelter.
The central recreation complex is being paid for with penny-per-dollar sales tax funds. Phase one will include five baseball fields, some walking trails, parking, concessions, restrooms, a maintenance building, infrastructure and a gym.
Phase two will include six baseball fields, four multi-purpose soccer/football fields, lights, a playground, parking lots, driveways and a campground.