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The Josh Willingham Foundation
About the Foundation
Josh Willingham is a native of Florence, a vibrant city in the northwest corner of Alabama, an area that locals passionately refer to as "the Shoals." In the off season, Josh and his wife Ginger make their home in the Shoals, along with their three sons, Rhett, Ryder and Rogan. Committed to giving back to the community they love, Josh and Ginger launched The Josh Willingham Foundation as a way to organize those efforts. The fundraising golf tournament is named in honor of his younger brother, Jon Willingham, who died in a car accident in 2009.
The Josh Willingham Foundation is a 501 C (3) organization, so contributions to the foundation are tax-deductible. The primary purpose is to (1) provide support, education, clothing and other assistance to at-risk children; (2) educate the public and professionals about at-risk children and the actions that can be taken to help at-risk children; and (3) provide support to charitable organizations that combat child abuse, provide educational support to children and help research cures to childhood diseases and assist children with such diseases.
The Josh Willingham Foundation is also currently involved with disaster relief for the victims of the April 27, 2011 tornadoes across northwest Alabama. 100% of the funds collected will go directly to assist those who are in dire need after the devastation that swept through Alabama.
About Josh Willingham & His Career
Joshua David Willingham is an American Major League Baseball left fielder for the Minnesota Twins. He has played for the Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals and Oakland Athletics.
He was born in Florence, Alabama where he played high school baseball and basketball at Mars Hill Bible School. Willingham attended college at the University of North Alabama. He played shortstop and was a two-time All-Gulf South Conference selection (1999, 2000) and a 2-time American Baseball Coaches Association All American. He is a member of Sigma Chi fraternity, Eta Rho Chapter.
Willingham was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 17th round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft. He made his MLB debut on July 6, 2004 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On April 4, 2006, Willingham recorded his first career multi-homer game, launching two against the Houston Astros. He ended the 2006 season with a solid line of .277/.356/.496 with 26 home runs and 74 runs batted in.
2007 proved to be another successful season for Willingham in his sophomore season. He maintained a solid batting average while hitting 21 home runs and 89 runs batted in. He became the team's regular left fielder in 2007, making just three errors in 223 total chances.
On November 11, 2008, Willingham was traded to the Washington Nationals.
Willingham was very productive, proving himself worthy of the everyday left fielder position. On July 27, 2009, Willingham became the 13th player in MLB history to hit two grand slams in the same game and the 7th in MLB history to accomplish this feat in back to back innings. He ended the season with a line of .260/.367/.496 with 24 home runs and 61 RBIs.
On December 16, 2010, Willingham was traded to the Oakland Athletics.
His 2011 batting average of .246 was his lowest since his rookie season, but he reached career pinnacles in home runs (29) and RBIs (98). Willingham won the 2011 Catfish Hunter Award.
On December 15, 2011, Willingham signed a 3 year deal with the Minnesota Twins.
Willingham was named AL Player of the Week for the week of April 9-15. Willingham hit 10-22 with 3 HR in 3 consecutive games and 4 RBI, getting a hit in every single game. Willingham singled in the 9th inning of a game on April 21, 2012 to tie Kirby Puckett's franchise record of getting a hit in the first 15 games of the season. On May 29, Willingham hit a three-run, walk-off HR against the Athletics. This was even more impressive because the Twins were trailing by two runs, and there were two outs in the inning. In late October it was announced that outfielder Josh Willingham won the Calvin R. Griffith Award, given to the most valuable player for the Twins.
Willingham also bagged the biggest prize of the team's Diamond Awards, based on voting conducted by the Twin Cities Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. In his first season with the Twins, Willingham became just the second player in franchise history to finish a season with 35 home runs and more than 100 runs batted in. He batted .260 with 30 doubles, 35 home runs and 110 runs batted in 145 games.After this career offensive year, the Twins left fielder was rewarded with his first Silver Slugger Award. The Silver Slugger is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and National League as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball.
On August 11, 2014, Kansas City bolstered their offense by acquiring outfielder Josh Willingham from the Minnesota Twins. A move the long-suffering franchise hopes will help them end a playoff drought that stretches back nearly three decades. "Obviously the goal was to win with the Twins, " Willingham said in an interview. "Unfortunately, we weren't. Anytime you're saying goodbye to really good friends, it's tough, but at the same time -- the other side of it, the baseball side of it -- they're winning over there. From a business side, it's good for me. Now I have a chance to go help another club and hopefully make the playoffs."
After 11 years playing in the major leagues, Josh Willingham decided to retire and will not be returning for the 2015 baseball season.
Josh is married to his high school sweetheart, Ginger Jaynes Willingham. They have three sons: Rhett, Ryder, and Rogan. Josh and Ginger started a charitable foundation and fundraising golf tournament named in honor of his younger brother, Jon Willingham, who died in a car accident in 2009.
Achievements and Accolades
The Josh Willingham Award is an annual honor to be presented to Division II college baseball's most valuable player. The award is to be bestowed upon a player who not only excels on the field, but in the dugout, clubhouse and practice field as well, and leads his team to national championship caliber status. The award is named after the former University of North Alabama Lion star, Josh Willingham. While playing baseball at UNA Willingham was a two-time All American and tied or broke 14 school single-game, season and career records.
Josh continues to be active with the North Alabama baseball program, as he spends time with the team, coaching staff and UNA fan. In 2010 he made a donation of a hitting facility which included three hitting tunnels and three tee hitting areas to support Lions’ baseball.
The Foundation Members
President: Ginger Willingham
Secretary: Amy Young
Director: Josh Willingham
Director: Eric Polis