Thomas Becomes Only Former SEC Player to Make it to Cooperstown

By Posted on: January 9th, 2014 in Baseball, News 4 Comments »
676160_LS- Frank Thomas

The greatest slugger to ever play baseball in the South Eastern Conference was voted into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame Wednesday. Former Auburn First Baseman, Frank ‘The Big Hurt” Thomas who played at Auburn between 1987 – 1989 and went on to play for the Chicago White Sox, received nearly 84% of the votes cast.

After an All-American performance at Auburn, he spent 19 years in the big leagues, mostly with the Sox. He was a two-time American League MVP and one of only three hiters in baseball history to have a .300 average with 500 home runs, 1,500 RBIs, 1,000 runs scored and 1,500 walks in his career. The other two were Mel Ott and Babe Ruth.

This writer had the privilege to watch Frank play in high school, college, and the pro’s. Even as an 18 year old high school player, it was evident to all that he was going to have a great career. He truly was a man among boys when he played for the Columbus (Ga.) High Blue Devils.

Thomas was inducted into Auburn’s Wall of Fame in 2010 and he becomes the only former SEC player to make it to Cooperstown. The official induction ceremony will take place July 27th. Congratulations Frank and War Eagle!

“Cody (not) at the Tee” (with apologies to Ernest Lawrence Thayer)

By Posted on: November 18th, 2013 in Baseball, Football, Memories 7 Comments »

                                                                                                                      photo:Shanna Lockwood/USA Today Sports
The outlook wasn’t bright for the old Auburn Eleven
The down was Fourth, the distance long, the score 38-37
Nick had just been sacked on Third, the Dawgs having their way
If only we could get closer, Cody Parkey might save the day

The Tigers talk it over, a timeout being called
Gus and Rhett and Nick discuss just how to move the ball
Auburn will have to throw it, to make the line to gain
To have a chance for Cody to kick it through again

Big Blue lines up, the ball is snapped, the play is underway
The Bulldogs rush, but somehow Nick stays up through all the fray
The Auburn faithful holds its breath as the pass takes to the air
Hoping at the other end a Tiger will be there

The pass goes up, the pass comes down, two Dawgs seem right at home
A pass knocked to the ground, you’d think, would earn them both a bone
But one tries intercepting, and knocks it straight back up
Ricardo Louis catches it, now Auburn’s five points up!

The Bulldogs can’t believe it, they all fall to the ground
The home crowd never doubted that the Tigers would come ‘round
Parkey just prepared himself to take the vict’ry home
Now all Cody has to do is boot it through the zone!

In Auburn, hearts are happy; in Auburn, trees are rolled
L.A. and Tallahassee’s games saw wins their teams unfold
Somewhere fans are laughing and somewhere the crowds have roared
But there is no joy in Athens, for Auburn has just scored!

Michael Val

(who still has trouble believing this game unfolded the way it did!)

Tim Hudson Out for Season After Suffering Serious Injury

By Posted on: July 25th, 2013 in Baseball, News Comments Off
harper25s-5-web young apologises to Hudson

              The Met’s Eric Young,Jr. shakes the hand of injured Braves pitcher Tim Hudson

It was a hard thing to watch when replays of former Auburn great and Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson’s injury were shown last night in a game against the New York Mets. He will have to undergo surgery for a broken ankle.

Hudson a probable MLB Hall of Famer, was one of the greatest college baseball players to ever play the game. The consensus All-American was the first player ever to be voted All-SEC both as an outfielder and as a pitcher. He batted close to 400 as a senior, was the SEC Player of the Year, and won the Rotary Smith Award (baseball’s version of the Heisman) as the nation’s top player.

Hudson is an Atlanta Brave but he is also a loyal Auburn Man who loves his Alma Mater. He contributed a million dollars last year to refurbish the Auburn player facilities and he aided in the coaching search for new baseball coach Sunny Galloway.

Tim had struck out nine batters in 7 2/3 innings when the accident occurred. The Mets Eric Young Jr stepped on the back of Hudson’s ankle as he was trying to beat out a grounder. Young was reportedly near tears over the injury and stayed by Hudson till he was carted off the field.

The Eastern Division leading Braves will sorely miss the right hander. We just hope Tim will be able to recover from this and, if he chooses, be able to continue his stellar career.

Get well soon Tim. Your Auburn Family is pulling for you!

“Somebody’s Watching Me”

By Posted on: June 28th, 2013 in Baseball, Basketball, Business - Entertainment, Featured Article, Football, Other Sports 15 Comments »

                                                           A smartly dressed Auburn man.

A few months ago, while I was driving to work, I reached the end of my cul-de-sac where a stop sign resides.  Since I can easily see down both ways of the cross-street before getting to the stop line, I usually coast through the sign when no one is coming (although if questioned by the authorities about this, I will gladly plead the Fifth).

However, this particular morning, as I was leaving a little late that day, the young man from the family next-door was standing outside waiting for the school bus, waving at me and looking appreciatively at my obnoxiously bright yellow Honda S2000 (as all young men do when a sports car goes by). All of a sudden, I realized that I would be setting an example by stopping or not stopping at that stop sign. I stopped pretty quick.

And thus it is with almost everything we do in life. NSA and IRS aside, we are always being watched and judged by our behavior. (This is especially true for those who say they don’t care what anyone else thinks.)  Then, fairly or unfairly, those judgments accrue to those who share characteristics with the judged party, whether race, sex, or college colors.

Consequently, it is essential that we remember this fact whenever we go out in our Auburn attire, whether to a game or just out shopping. People are watching and judging, and judging all of us by the example given by each of us.  It is probably even more important for those of us with Auburn bumper stickers or license plates to comport ourselves in a seemly manner in our vehicles (this last point is usually lost on my own self when dealing with motor-miscreants in Atlanta’s infamous uber-traffic).

As I noted in an earlier article, I wear my Auburn attire just about everywhere, for the specific purpose of provoking a reaction. The reaction I honestly hope I get is someone thinking “There goes someone who loves his university.” If a rival fan wants to offer a good-natured rib, I am perfectly fine with that too. However, we certainly do NOT need to provoke the reaction of “Typical Auburn blankety-blank.”

Although I am sure the readership here are always careful to exercise politeness and class in ALL situations, regardless of attire or activity, this is just a reminder to us all (and myself especially) to take that extra measure of care when identifying ourselves as part of the Auburn Family. Gosh knows, we can pick our friends, but we can’t pick our family—let’s make sure we make life a little easier for everyone who walks the orange-and-blue path.

Michael Val

(who enjoys estimating the probability of ANY university attendance of drivers whose car carries crimson-and-white “A” stickers)


Is Auburn Turning the Corner?

By Posted on: June 17th, 2013 in Baseball, Other Sports 4 Comments »

sunny gollowayThe hiring of a softball and baseball coach hardly signifies the return of a once great athletic program. But there’s little doubt that last Friday’s announcements sent a loud and clear message to the rest of the SEC.

Athletic Director Jay Jacobs’s job will not be saved based on the results of spring sports. Like every other person in his position, his future will be determined by what happens on fall Saturdays.

Still, it takes nothing away from the magnitude of the hires Jacobs made in both sports. While more attention was given to the hiring of Oklahoma baseball coach Sunny Golloway, the real statement was made when Clint Myers was pulled from Arizona St. to lead the softball team.

He’s arguably the top coach in the game. He’s won two national titles in the past six years and left a program that’s expected to be a preseason top five team next year. Despite the pedigree, his success is far from guaranteed.

He’ll be expected to compete against an Alabama squad that’s become a perennial power, claiming the national title last year. Within the state, both South Alabama and Jacksonville St. qualified for regional births this year.

There can be no argument now that Jacobs didn’t go out and hire the best coach available; he deserves a lot of credit.

Maybe the group brought in to evaluate the athletic program earlier this year is paying off. I say Auburn should hire them  back every year. Jacobs has always preached that he intends on hiring the best coaches available; for the first time it wasn’t just talk.

Pulling Golloway out of Norman was a bigger headline and no less impressive. It’s not every day that Auburn goes out and hires a name coach from a traditional sports powerhouse. In fact, in my lifetime I can’t remember it happening.

It will be shocking if Golloway fails. In 15 years as a head coach, he’s led his teams to 14 NCAA Regional appearances. This year’s Oklahoma team won the Big 12 Tournament and advanced to a Super Regional for the second straight year.

Golloway’s teams have won 40 or more games in each of the past four seasons. He also led Oral Roberts to Regional appearances in his six seasons there as coach.

Jacobs knows Auburn must compete in more than just football and men’s basketball. Across the state Alabama claimed four national titles last year (football, softball, gymnastics, women’s golf) and have added another in 2013 (men’s golf).

The Auburn program has yet to turn the corner, but after the events of Friday, they can clearly see it now. Give Jay Jacobs credit. He could have easily become defensive and shut down. Instead, he’s chosen to up his game.

It’s all any of us can ask.

Jay Jacobs Hits Homerun With Sunny Golloway Hire

By Posted on: June 14th, 2013 in Baseball, News 10 Comments »
790557- Sunny Golloway

After evaluating over a half dozen coaches to replace John Pawlowski, Auburn AD Jay Jacobs hit a home run tonight when he announced the hiring of Oklahoma’s Head Coach, Sunny Golloway.

Under pressure to deliver, Jacobs said he was looking for proven winners who could contend for championships. He got his man in hiring Galloway away from Oklahoma.

The Sooner skipper took over a down program in 2005 and rebuilt/restored Oklahoma to a nationally recognized program. This year OU won the Big 12 Championship and posted their fourth consecutive 40-win season. Although they swept through the Blacksburg Regional they lost out in the Super Regional to LSU.

In nine seasons in Norman, Golloway took the Sooners to 8 NCAA Regionals, 4 Super Regionals (hosting 3)  and one College World Series. His record at Oklahoma is 346-181-1 and his overall record is 638-316-1.

As an OU  assistant from 1992-95, he helped lead the Sooners to three trips to the College World Series in four years and win the 1994 National Championship. Before taking over at Oklahoma, he was the Head Coach at Oral Roberts University where his teams went to six Regionala amd won an average of more than 46 wins per season, for a .731 winning percentage

Having faced some of Hal Baird’s teams in the NCAA Tournament and College World Series, Golloway said he’s, “Always held the Auburn baseball program in very high regard. The history of the Auburn program was a huge factor in making this decision.” He continued, ” With our location, we are in a hotbed of talent. We will be able to hit the road recruiting right away, and we look forward to recruiting the best student-athletes to represent this outstanding university.

Some other amazing stats on the new Auburn Tiger Head Coach :

* He has coached  88 all-conference honorees at Oklahoma and Oral Roberts. In the last eight years, 55 Sooners have garnered All-Big 12 accolades.

* The number of players taken in the MLB Draft during Golloway’s 16 seasons as a head coach and as an assistant coach at OU – 82 including a program-best 11 players in 2011.

* His .671 winning percentage ranked  No. 15 in the nation among active coaches in Division I baseball.

The Auburn Athletic Director promised to hire championship contending coaches to fill the vacant baseball and softball positions. Many doubted whether he was up to the challenge. He delivered today in a big way with the hiring of Galloway to replace John Pawlowski and Clint Meyers to shepherd the softball program.

Yes Jacobs hit a home run with these hires; now we will see if Golloway can get the Tiger Baseball program back to the glory days of SEC legendary Coach Hal Baird’s teams of the nineties. He certainly has the resume and appears to be ready for the challenge.

Welcome to Auburn Coach Golloway and War Eagle!

Oklahoma TV Reports Galloway is New Auburn Baseball Coach

By Posted on: June 14th, 2013 in Baseball, News Comments Off

The Channel 6 news in Norman, Oklahoma is reporting breaking news that Oklahoma coach Sunny Galloway has accepted the job at Auburn University.

Quote: “After nine seasons, four super regionals and a College World Series appearance, Oklahoma baseball coach Sunny Golloway has decided to leave Norman.

Sources are confirming that Golloway has accepted the vacant head coaching position at Auburn after flying out to Alabama on Friday for an interview.”

More at:

Story to follow here at Track ‘Em Tigers

Auburn Should Make Next Baseball Coach an Offer He Can’t Refuse

By Posted on: June 12th, 2013 in Baseball, News 8 Comments »
518aaca25ccaa.image- Hal Baird

          Could the next Auburn Baseball coach return the Tigers to the glory days of Hal Baird?

There hasn’t been much news lately on the search for a new Auburn baseball coach. But with the NCAA Tournament over and the College World Series wrapping up in the next 2 weeks, most of the prospective coaches should now be available for interviews.

There has been more than a half dozen names floating around the rumor mill since the dismissal of John Pawlowski. Amongst the fan base there are those that would like to see a big name Division I head man be considered while others are hoping to see fan favorite and Samford Coach, Casey Dunn get the nod.

Count me among those who would be glad to see the former Tiger All-American return as head coach. After taking over a program that had been through 8 losing seasons, his accomplishment’s have been nothing short of phenomenal. The first Samford coach in 40 years to post consecutive winning seasons, has led his team in winning two conference championships, and took the Bulldogs to an NCAA Tournament berth in 2012.

That same year Baseball America named him as their No.2 on their list of top college baseball coaches under 40. Rumors are that the University of Georgia has interest in him as well.

One things for certain, Casey Dunn will be coaching somewhere at a major program in the next few years, he is just too good a coach for that not to happen.

Even though legendary SEC and former Auburn coach Hal Baird has said he thinks there could be no better fit for Auburn, look for Jay Jacobs to pass on Casey, opting instead to make a splash with a big name Division I head coach or at least with a proven assistant from a big school.

Without question, the most prominent big splash would be Vandy skipper Tim Corbin.  However, it’s highly unlikely Corbin would leave the good situation he enjoys in Nashville.

Other names in the rumor mill have included South Alabama’s Mark Calvi, Troy’s Bobby Pierce, Miss State’s pitching coach Butch Thompson, Florida State’s hitting coach Mike Martin, Jr. North Carolina’s pitching coach Scott Forbes and most recently Oklahoma Head Coach Sunny Galloway and the head man at N.C. State, Elliott Avent.

Some think the offer will be made to the highly successful Avent since Jacobs tried to hire him before he eventually turned to Pawlowski back in 2008. What could be the difference between today and 2008 is that Auburn appears to be willing to open the checkbook to get a big time guy. And that’s exactly what’s needed – make a proven winner an offer he can’t refuse.

In the event, that Jacobs isn’t able to land the big fish, there’s still one name that has been out there from the beginning and he’s one of the most highly respected assistants in the country.

Jacobs would absolutely score a home run if he could persuade ….

Arkansas Associate Head Coach Todd Butler to take the reigns of the Tiger program. As a hitting coach, he has a reputation for attracting top talent as well as developing big time hitters.

In seven seasons in Fayetteville, Butler has helped the Razorbacks make it to 2 College World Series appearances, 7 NCAA Regionals, 3 NCAA Super Regionals, and 2 SEC Western Division titles. In addition, as lead recruiter, Butler has put together 5 – top 10 recruiting classes and had 46 players taken in the MLB Draft.

Those familiar with Butler, may think he would not accept an offer since he turned down an invitation last year to join the Texas staff. However this offer would be different.

Texas offered a raise for what was essentially a lateral move. After 20 years in the business, the Auburn job would give him a chance to be a head coach in the SEC. And the Tiger program has the facilities, the fan support, and a good roster foundation to work with.

There’s little doubt in my mind that if Jay Jacobs would make him an offer he couldn’t refuse, Tiger Baseball could return to the glory days of Hal Baird.