Kenny Reddick died for approximately two minutes. He said he saw the white light three times and had out-of-body experiences, watching on as CPR was performed on him...
August 8, 2011 - eagletribune.com/sports - Red Sox right fielder Josh Reddick's father, Kenny Reddick, felt like he was in a trash compactor. His hands were so tight he thought they were about to explode. Do you know what it feels like to get a cramp in your hamstring? Well, every single muscle in Kenny's body felt that cramped and tight. His entire body was vibrating. He felt like he was being compressed. That is the pain he experienced after being electrocuted by approximately 7,620 volts on Jan. 30, 1988.
"I actually knew what was going on," he said. "I looked up to the blue skies and said, 'What if this is it?'"Kenny died for approximately two minutes. He said he saw the white light three times and had out-of-body experiences, watching on as CPR was performed on him. He spent the next 21 days in the hospital. His left hand was amputated. His index finger and middle finger on his right hand were amputated while the other two remaining fingers and his thumb don't work the way they are supposed to, Kenny said. Yet this inspiring father still taught Josh how to play baseball despite not having hands. Josh said his dad has had a tremendous influence on his baseball career.
"Given what my dad's been through it made me want to work that much harder," Josh said. "He made the game fun and he made it competitive. That's the way you want to play the game." Kenny knows Josh's swing better than anybody. "If I'm in a slump, he can tell me exactly what I'm doing wrong without looking at one piece of video," Josh said. "When I played in High-A in California, whenever I'd get struggling I'd call him and (he'd ask), 'What did you do tonight?' I'd say, '0 for 3, two pop-ups and a ground out.' He was like, 'Well, quit jumping at the dang old ball. You're not letting the ball get there. Keep your shoulder up.' "I'd come in the next day and the hitting coach would say, 'Hey, look at this video. You were jumping at the ball on this.' That goes to show how well he knows my swing."
Kenny was 25 years old in 1988 and was working as a lineman for a power company in Savannah, Ga. He was working on a pole that Saturday afternoon and the power was supposed to be dead all day, he said. But his supervisor had it turned back on when Kenny went to lunch. "And he didn't tell me about it and asked me to go straighten up a switch (after lunch). When I straightened up the switch with my left hand, 7,620 volts went through my left hand," Kenny said. Kenny said it is a miracle he still is alive. He was discharged from the hospital the day after Josh's first birthday. "When I came home, I was a different man," he said. "My kids were presented with a strange person in front of them."
Kenny has another son, Bradford, who is a few years older than Josh and a teenage daughter Danielle. "The kids," Kenny said, "(have) got me out of the house."Kenny said his kids helped him realize he could coach and even play a little baseball despite his disability. "The kids taught me to play the game all over," he said. "I could still be athletic and be around the game. Baseball basically kept it all going. It got me back out into the public."
Kenny has spent a great deal of his time coaching his kids over the years. "He actually (catches) the ball between his elbows and his chest," said Josh, adding that his dad doesn't wear a baseball glove. "He just kind of cups his hands together and lets it bounce against his chest and catches it that way." Josh said the baseball is never thrown fast to his dad. "I think the only time I've seen him actually do something really hard was when I was playing in a men's league team with my brother's team way back in the day," Josh recalled. "We needed one more guy or we would have had to forfeit so my dad said, 'Heck with it. I'm going to go out there (to right field).' And I remember he had a glove on for some reason or another. And the ball was hit to him and it was a pop-up. So he looked at the glove and looked at the ball and then just chucked the glove and caught it right near his chest and made the out. ... There was nobody on so he just flipped it up and punted it into second base."
Josh was cut from his middle school baseball team in seventh grade and then again as an eighth grader. The Red Sox right fielder said there were politics involved in him not making the team, but nonetheless, his father made sure he was never cut from any baseball team again. "He came home," Kenny recalled, "and said, 'What are we going to do?' I said, 'I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to make everybody pay attention.' I said, 'You've got a great swing. Your fundamentals are sound.' So I bought like a $50 net and a $20 Walmart T-Ball stand and a bucket of baseballs and he went out there every day and hit 150 to 200 baseballs off the tee." Kenny said the only option he gave his son was whether to practice baseball first and then do his homework or do his homework first and then practice baseball."He'd choose baseball (first)," Kenny said. "So he'd go do the 150 to 200 (swings) every day, and then he'd come in and do his homework and before nightfall he was back out there hitting the ball again." When Josh was cut from his middle school team, Kenny decided to form a team of all the kids who were cut. Kenny was the manager. They called themselves "the Renegades." "I guess you can kind of say that Renegades is the outlaw, outcast kind of guys," Josh said, adding that his team went farther than the middle school team in every tournament that both teams entered. Kenny will be visiting Josh here in Boston in a couple of weeks. "It's always fun to have him in town," Josh said. "It's not so much a father/son relationship as it is a best friend relationship. He's been by my side since day one. We get along great — like best friends."