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Josh Willingham

 

A Florence native, was a three-year letterman, two-time All-American and Academic All-American baseball player at UNA from 1998-2000. During his three seasons at UNA he tied or broke 14 school records. A two-time All-Gulf South Conference, two-time Academic All-GSC, two-time ABCA All-South Central Region and two-time ABCA All-American (first-team in 1999 and second-team in 2000) selection, Willingham was also named Academic All-American in 2000, making him one of just eight student-athletes in school history to be both an All-American and Academic All-American honoree. Willingham finished his three-year collegiate career with a .424 batting average. He scored 178 runs, had 205 hits, 185 RBI, 43 doubles, 4 triples, 30 home runs and 70 stolen bases in 77 attempts. He also set a school record with 5 grand slams. In his final season at UNA he hit .420 as a junior (73-of-174) with 13 home runs and 75 runs batted in and also scored 74 runs. He was selected as UNA's Male Athlete of the Year for 1999-2000. During his career he led UNA to a combined 119-40-1 record that included the 1999 Gulf South Conference Championship, the 1999 NCAA Division II South Central Regional Championship and a trip to the 1999 Division II College World Series. He also earned five GSC Player of the Week honors.  He spent 11 years in the Major Leagues, playing five seasons with the Florida Marlins, two with the Washington Nationals, one with Oakland A’s, two and a half with the Minnesota Twins and the last half of the 2014 season with the Kansas City Royals. He  played in 1,147 major league games and had a .253 career batting average with 988 hits, 564 runs scored and 632 runs batted in. He hit 195 home runs and added 216 doubles and 15 triples for 426 career extra-base hits. His 553 career walks helped give him an impressive .358 on base percentage. Willingham hit 28 home runs with the A's in 2011 and followed with a career-high 35 homers and 110 runs batted in with the Twins in 2012, earning an American League Silver Slugger Award in the outfield and was named the Twins team MVP. In 2014 he played in the American League Wild Card Game, the American League Divisional Series and the World Series with the Kansas City Royals.