Former Auburn All American 1st baseman and Major League great Frank Thomas returned to Auburn’s Plainsman park February 27.
Nineteen ninety three was the last time that Auburn’s Frank Thomas was in Auburn. Today he will be at the special ceremonies in Auburn to honor the inaugural class of Auburn Baseball’s Wall Of Fame. He will be joined by three other Auburn greats : Tim Hudson, Gregg Olson, and Bo Jackson.
I was able to watch Thomas play high school ball in Columbus, Georgia. Even then you did not have to be a major league scout to recognize that he was an unusual athlete that would make a name for himself in professional sports. He excelled in basketball, baseball, and football. He was considered by many to be one of the top tight ends in the south, making All State his senior year. I was excited when Coach Pat Dye signed him to a football scholorship in 1986. However few knew at that time what a great impact player he would be … but not in football … in baseball.
Coach Dye said Thomas was good enough to have been a 1st Round NFL Draft Pick, but after being injured his freshman year, Dye allowed him to remain on football scholarship. He went on to play for the Tiger Baseball Team and light up the SEC scoreboards with RBI’s and homeruns.
After 19 seasons in the big leagues, Thomas retired February 12th. It would take too long to list all of his major league acomplishments here for he will definetly being going into Cooperstown. However to list just a few he was a 5 time All Star, who hit for a lifetime .301 avg, an on base avg. of .419, was in the top 3 in MVP voting six times winning it twice, drove in 1704 runs, and hit 521 homeruns. Only 6 players in history hit more homeruns and have a higher career batting average . He is the only player in major league history to have 7 consecutive seasons of a .300 avg, at least 100 walks, 100 runs scored, 100 RBI’s, and hit at least 20 homeruns. And he done it all without steroids.
Coach Hal Baird said ” You could see how great a player he would be the first time he walked out on the field at Auburn “. Baird said ” his bat speed was unbelieveable” Thomas started his Auburn career by hitting .359 with 21 homeruns his freshman year and finished his senior season by leading the SEC with a .403 batting avg, with 83 runs batted in, and was voted the SEC MVP. He was the first Auburn baseball player to win consensus All American honors. The legendary Baird said Thomas was ” the greatest hitter I ever saw in college baseball , hitting for average as well as homerun hitting”.
Its great to see Head Coach John Pawlowski start this new tradition of a Wall of Fame at Auburn. And its great to see him bring back ( like Chizik has done ) former Auburn greats and honor them. It is also great to have Frank ” THE BIG HURT ” Thomas back in town, its been too long since 1993. Welcome back Frank and Congratulations !