Wall of Fame Quotes
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Feb. 27, 2010

Frank Thomas

On returning to Auburn...
"It's a little different, but the field still looks the same. It's just like being at home. The stands and this nice wall are all that's changed. Auburn is Auburn. I was telling people today that I'm just happy to be back on the old stomping grounds. I spent so many days going back to see my parents and driving back to Columbus that it's nice to see all the familiar roads. I made the bus drive back up to Toomer's Corner just to make sure that it's still standing, and it looks great still. I'm just proud to be back here."

On being in the inaugural class for the Auburn Wall of Fame...
"It's tremendous; especially being with so many great guys who had great college careers, but also lead great lives. It's a proud day for Auburn baseball."

On some of his favorite memories of Auburn baseball...
"Hal (Baird) always pushed me. He would always compare me to Bo (Jackson) in center field. He would say, `Maybe if you work a little harder, you can climb that wall.' I would always say, `Coach, there's only one Bo Jackson.' He pushed me and got me ready to play at the next level and I'm very thankful for that. I'm so happy to see Hal today."

On his plans now that he is retired from professional baseball... "I'm going to take it one day at a time. Nineteen years of this at the major league level takes a toll. I didn't get to see the kids grow up like I wanted to. You miss so much valuable time with the kids and I'm just happy to take a pause and just enjoy life a little bit."

On how often he is able to visit Auburn...
"I was here 11 years ago. Some of the new buildings weren't around. Today, I was almost lost sitting up here on campus. I've got a 17-year old son and I told him, `I'm going to take you to a real college today.' He was overwhelmed when he saw the university. I told him that this was a real school down here."

On what he might like to do with his time now...
"I've been offered a little bit of television work with Comcast Chicago so we'll see how that works out. I just don't want to get involved with anything full-time right now. I would definitely like to get back into ball in the next few years helping hitters and anything else with Major League Baseball."

 

 

On Coach Hal Baird...
"I was lucky to play with Hal. He had so much experience with major leaguers that he could easily compare you and tell you what you were lacking. He really prepared me for the next level."

Gregg Olson

On what today means to him...
"Today was great. You look at the guys I went in with and that was probably one of my favorite stories of the weekend. A couple of the Missouri guys were coming back from practice Thursday night and we were just checking in and we started talking. It was late at night and they were saying, `We're pretty excited. Bo Jackson, Tim Hudson and Frank Thomas are going into the Hall of Fame this weekend.' I could just say, `Cool.' (laughs) Fourth wheel. To go in with these guys is just great. I haven't seen some of these guys for a while. It's a huge honor."

On how often he returns to Auburn and changes that he's noticed...
"Everything has changed. All the roads that I used to drive around on are now dead-ends into buildings and sororities, so I'm completely clueless with where I'm going here. I don't get back enough. I've gotten back probably once in the past eight years. I have four kids and we live in southern California so it's not easy to get back. We'll plan on going to a football game one year and something will happen with three kids in sports or something like that. It's definitely something that I need to do more. Every time I'm here, I regret the fact that I'm not here more."

On reasons for attending Auburn...
"It's funny. I look back and it's one of those decisions that I don't really know why I made it. I've been asked the question if I would change anything and, in hindsight, I wouldn't change a thing. Knowing what I know, I still would've come here. It was three of the best years of my life. It was an unbelievable decision that I don't think I would change. I had all the information that I needed to have, but I knew that it came down to Mississippi State, Arizona and Auburn. The other two had some things that I didn't necessarily like and Auburn didn't have anything that I didn't like. It was perfect. The baseball team, I thought, was up and coming and I thought I could help right away and those were two big points for me."

On playing such a vital role in turning Auburn's baseball program around...
"I never really looked at it that way. It's funny because when I was in the big leagues on a rehab stint, I ran into so many people who were major leaguers or minor leaguers that I recruited. We brought a lot of people in here and it seems I took them all on their recruiting trips. Some of them came, some of them signed and some of them didn't. I never looked at it like I had this influence on the program. It was just part of my responsibility to bring more guys here. I never looked at it like I was the guy who made it turn the corner. It wasn't a point that I really thought about."

Tim Hudson

On what today means to him...
"It's a tremendous honor to be able to come back and be included with a group like Bo Jackson, Gregg Olson and Frank Thomas. I'm thrilled to death that Auburn thought enough of me to bring me back and include me with such a group. It's always great to come back to Auburn and I always feel welcome. It's a big family and it's great to be back."

On trying to maintain strong ties to Auburn...
"I do. I'm only about a half hour from here. My parents live here in Auburn and we're actually building a house here. So we're going to be living here full time starting this coming off season. It's a place where we're happy. We love it here and the people are awesome. They've always made me and my family feel welcome and it's a place where we're going to put down our roots."

On Auburn preparing him for his time in the majors...
"It was vital. Playing at Auburn in this caliber of baseball in the SEC, it does nothing but get you better for the next level. When I got drafted, I thought that A-ball was a step down from SEC baseball. It wasn't quite as good as AA, but it definitely got you better for what to expect at the next level. I'm just thrilled that I had the opportunity to play here and play under Coach Baird. He was vital to not only my career, but at lot of the other pitchers who came through here."

On his current physical state...
"I feel tremendous right now physically. There are no limitations. I came back and pitched last year toward the end of the year and I didn't feel like I was quite 100 percent but I was good enough to go out and pitch and give the (Atlanta) Braves, or whatever team was interested in signing me, the confidence to do that. Luckily, the Braves felt like I came out strongly enough to extend me a couple of years. Right now, I feel the best I've felt in I can't remember how many years. It's great to be able to get out there and pitch and feel strong and not feel like you're limited in any way, physically. It's something that a pitcher, later in his career, you feel like you're on the down side. But right now, I feel like I'm back to being 25."

On pressure to perform better for Bobby Cox's final year...
"I don't know if there's added pressure, but there is definitely some added motivation in our club. Bobby has been great to play for. He's been my favorite manager. He feels like a teammate. For a manager to feel like a teammate and like he has your back no matter what, that doesn't happen too often nowadays in the game of baseball. I know that I'm going to do all I can to make this season special for him and that all the other 25 guys in the locker room are going to do the same."

Bo Jackson

On what today means to him...
"The fact that I'm able to come back here and have the people of Auburn show respect for, not only myself, but also for these three athletes inducted, it gives me and my family a lot of pleasure."

On Hal Baird's influence...
"I put Coach Baird in the same mold that I put Coach (Pat) Dye in. He just did it on a lower key. Coach Baird was not as vocal as Coach Dye. But they got the same point across to their players, which was to go out there and play hard and everything will work out in the long run."

On his favorite memories of Auburn baseball...
"The food at Sewell Hall. (laughs) Actually, today was the first time that I saw some of my old teammates. I haven't seen some of them in 20 some odd years. The camaraderie that we had spending three or four years together, riding in a bus and having a good time. And doing something that we loved doing, which was playing baseball and finding a way to win a lot of baseball games."

On being inducted with this group...
"Everybody is great within their own. To be mentioned in the same sentence as Frank Thomas, Gregg Olson and Tim Hudson, you have had to have done something right. One of them is still playing, Frank just retired and Gregg did some phenomenal things in here. Even though you come back here and say that you'd like to be out there playing, but, in reality, you have to move on. It's great to have these moments. It's great to come back here and reminisce. Just like I said earlier, it's just like coming home."

On what he liked best about his Auburn baseball career...
"The thing that I liked best doesn't really have anything to do with sports. It's the fact that I came to a place and received a free education. It's also the place where I met my wife and that's been 26 years ago. I can't ask for anything more."