Former Auburn-Walk-on Will Be Inducted into Cooperstown Today
A former Auburn football player will be inducted into Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame today. Frank ‘The Big Hurt’ Thomas goes in as the first ever player to be inducted from the South Eastern Conference.
Despite the threat of rain, the crowds are expected to possibly set a record of more than 40,000; due in large part to the popularity of the former White Sox first baseman as well as two former pitchers and two former managers from the Atlanta Braves.
Joining Frank will be former managers Bobby Cox and Joe Torre along with Cy Young winners Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. “I don’t know if there’s ever been a bigger day in the history of the Atlanta Braves.” says former Braves pitcher John Smoltz.
Well maybe so but it is most certainly the biggest day ever for SEC and Auburn Baseball as a favorite son goes into the Hall. After 19 seasons in the big leagues, ‘The Big Hurt” goes in on his first year of eligibility with 84 percent of the votes.
Thomas was a two time MVP and five time All Star with the Chicago White Sox . He drove in 1704 runs, and hit 521 homeruns. 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.
I was able to watch Frank 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.
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 walk-on for the Tiger Baseball Team and light up the SEC scoreboards with RBI’s and homeruns. His senior year he led the SEC with a .403 batting avg, with 83 runs batted in, and was voted the SEC MVP.
Frank is a proud Auburn man. And to this day, he gives credit to his time on The Plains for being where he’s at today. He says he owes a lot to Coach Dye for keeping him on scholarship and to Tiger Baseball Coach Hal Baird for helping to develop him.
On this day in Cooperstown it’s hard to imagine that he was ever a walk-on baseball player in college. Yet the former Auburn player will be inducted today into the most prestigious Hall of Fame in all of sports.
Don’t be surprised if (in his acceptance speech) he doesn’t give us all a “War Eagle!”
Editor’s note: Festivities are scheduled to begin at 11:00 am CST.