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ABOUT JOSH WILLINGHAM
Josh was a first-team 1A-3A high school standout at Mars Hill High School in Florence, Alabama where he helped the Panthers reach the state playoffs three years in a row which included a state runner-up finish as a senior. His last season as a prep he hit .504 with 20 stolen bases and had a state of Alabama leading 64 RBI.

Despite opportunities and offers to play at a DI school, Josh decided to stay in his hometown of Florence and play for Coach Mike Lane at the University of North Alabama. He was an instant success for the Lions, immediately generating stats indicative of the bigger success he’d have in year’s to come. He played in 43 games as a freshman with 34 starts, batting .325 with 28 runs scored, 24 RBI, 13 extra base hits and was a perfect 14 for 14 in stolen base attempts.

After a summer playing for the Austin Southern Minny Stars in the Northwoods League, it was as a sophomore when Josh truly broke out and showed promise of his future big league success. He was selected first-team All-American after a record-breaking season that placed him among the top players in collegiate baseball. Josh hit .489, which was third in the nation and also placed in the top ten nationally in RBI with 86 and slugging percentage at .863. He also scored 76 runs, had 26 doubles and launched 15 homeruns. Josh hit safely in 47 of UNA’s 57 games and had at least two hits in 33 of those games. In the opening game of the Division II Baseball Championship Tournament Josh tied the school record for hits in a game with five against West Virginia State. His .489 overall average (93-for-190) included going .485 in the Gulf South Conference (32-for-66) and .450 in six NCAA Tournament games.  He had a .925 fielding percentage playing shortstop for the Lions with just 19 errors in 255 chances. He also impressively hit three grand slams on the season, which was more than the number of double plays he hit into (2).

Josh returned to the Northwood’s League as season’s end where he continued his hot hitting, batting .337 with five home runs and 24 RBIs in 28 games in the wood bat league. However late in the season he tore cartilage in his wrist while trying to break up a double-play and put his junior season in jeopardy. After undergoing surgery Josh was supposed to miss the start of the next season, but he recovered in time to make the opening day’s starting lineup.

Despite the off-season injury Josh’s junior season was once again filled with success and accolades as he became UNA’s third two-time All-American. He once again led UNA in hitting as with a .420 average (73-for-174) , which included eight doubles, a pair of  triples and 13 home runs.  He also drove in 75 runs, scored 74 and stole 29 bases in 32 attempts. During the season he was selected Gulf South Conference Player of the Week three times and earned first-team All-GSC, All-GSC Tournament and first-team All-South Central Region at the end of the season. Additionally he was selected Academic All-Gulf South Conference for a second straight year and was an Academic All-District IV performer for a second time as well.

Following his junior season Willingham was selected in the 17th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Florida Marlins.  He made his MLB debut on July 6th, 2004 and has enjoyed a steady success at the highest level ever since. Some of his highlights include belting homeruns in four straight games from September 21–26, 2008, hitting two grand slams in the same game (which he did on in back-to-to back innings) on July 27, 2009 and tying Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett’s Minnesota Twin record of hitting safely in the first fifteen games of the season in 2012. Josh’s 2012 season was exceptionally impressive as his 35 homeruns were the most by a Minnesota Twin not named Harmon Killebrew and he added 110 RBI to earn his first Silver Slugger Award, an honor given to the best offensive player at each position.

Josh continues to be active with the North Alabama baseball program, as he spends time with the team, coaching staff and UNA fans and in 2010 he made a donation of a hitting facility which included three hitting tunnels and three tee hitting areas to support Lions’ baseball. He and his wife, Ginger, are also active in the community as he have a foundation which raised over $100,000 for tornado relief after the area was devastated from an F5 tornado on April 27, 2011. The funds allowed the construction of a tornado shelter and a handicapped friendly playground at a local elementary school. The Josh Willingham Foundation, which his wife is the president, hosts an annual fundraising golf tournament named in honor of Josh’s younger brother, Jon Willingham, who died in a car accident in 2009.

WILLINGHAM'S STATS AT NORTH ALABAMA

YEAR AVE G-GS AB R H RBI 2B 3B HR BB SO SB-SBA
1998 .325 43-34 120 28 39 24 9 2 2 14 25 14-14
1999 .489 57-57 190 76 93 86 26 0 15 43 30 27-31
2000 .420 52-52 174 74 73 75 8 2 13 47 24 29-32
TOTALS .424 152-143 484 178 205 185 43 4 30 104 79 70-77

WILLINGHAM'S HONORS AT NORTH ALABAMA

  • 1999 ABCA All-American (first-team)
  • 1999 ABCA All-South Central Region (first-team)
  • 1999 All-Gulf South Conference (first-team)
  • 1999 All-Gulf South Conference Tournament
  • 1999 Gulf South Conference Tournament co-MVP
  • Gulf South Conference Player of the Week - April 5
  • 1999 NCAA Division II Baseball Championship All-Tournament Team
  • 1999 Academic All-American (second-team)
  • 1999 GTE Academic All-District IV (first-team)
  • 2000 ABCA All-American (second-team)
  • 2000 ABCA All-South Central Region (first-team)
  • 2000 All-Gulf South Conference (first-team)
  • 2000 All-Gulf South Conference Tournament
  • 2000 Academic All-Gulf South Conference
  • 2000 GTE Academic All-District IV (first-team)
  • Gulf South Conference Player of the Week - March 21, April 25, May 1

WILLINGHAM'S RECORDS SET AT UNA

  • UNA - Most Consecutive Time to Reach Base
    Josh Willingham 11 - 1999
  • UNA - Most Doubles in a Season
    Josh Willingham 26 - 1999
  • UNA - Most RBI in a Season
    Josh Willingham 86 - 1999
  • UNA - Most RBI in a Game (Tied)
    Josh Willingham 8 - 2000
  • UNA - Most Walks in a Season
    Josh Willingham 47 - 2000
  • UNA - Most Total Bases in a Season
    Josh Willingham 164 - 1999
  • UNA - Most Grand Slams in a Season
    Josh Willingham 3 - 1999
  • UNA - Most Grand Slams in a Career
    Josh Willingham 5 - 1998-00
  • UNA - Best On Base Pct. in a Season
    Josh Willingham .585 - 1999
  • UNA - Best Slugging Pct. in a Season
    Josh Willingham .863 - 1999
  • UNA - Most Hits in a Season
    Josh Willingham 93 - 1999
  • UNA - Most Hits in a Game (Tied)
    Josh Willingham 5 - 1999, 2000
  • UNA - Most Hits in a Career
    Josh Willingham 205 - 1998-00
  • UNA - Most Runs Scored in a Game (Tied)
    Josh Willingham 5 - 2000