Nats skipper Jim Riggleman calls Josh Willingham the ultimate professional. He said Josh is everything you’d ask for in a ballplayer. He plays hard, he has great at bats, and the ball jumps off his bat. Riggleman also added that he runs the bases well and he’s smart, in addition to being a good teammate.
Ryan Zimmerman told me that Josh is so supportive as a teammate, and he describes Willingham as being laid back. However, Josh can also be intense. Ryan said Josh rarely gets upset, but when he does he can be angry at himself for making a mistake because he cares so much. Ryan added that Josh is a very good example for the younger players on the team.
Josh admits it can be tough having a family and playing baseball at the same time. So whenever he gets a chance, he cherishes every free minute he spends with his three-year-old son, Rhett. Whenever the Nationals win, Rhett looks forward to going into the batting cages after the game with his Dad. The two share a natural love of baseball and it’s a great way for father and son to bond.
Josh and Ginger also have a new baby son, Ryder. He’s already been nicknamed “Ryder Cup”. Ginger describes her husband as a big kid himself. She said he really loves the time he spends with his children.
The Willinghams also appreciate being able to raise two children, and they acknowledge that many families do not have what they have. That’s why they set up the Josh Willingham Foundation. The goal is to raise money for underprivileged children in their hometown of Florence, Alabama. They are in the process of building a playground there and more projects are in the works.
Meanwhile, when he’s in Washington, Josh constantly lends a hand to the community. He told me he loves spending time out in the community, whether it’s visiting with kids at Children’s Hospital or spending time with wounded soldiers who have fought for our country.
One thing is for certain, Josh Willingham may be the ultimate professional as a ballplayer - but off the field, he’s an even better person.