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Tim Hudson, World Series champ, still calls Auburn home
Nov. 20, 2014

Tim Hudson acknowledges the crowd at an Auburn football game this season

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. -- He's a World Series champion now, but Tim Hudson still calls Auburn home.

He'll be swinging away at Auburn's home ballpark, just as he did when he played baseball for the Tigers in 1996-97, in the Hudson Family Foundation Home Run Derby at 6 p.m. Friday at Plainsman Park. Former major leaguers and former Auburn players will join him in  an event Hudson describes as "trying to hit home runs, trying not to hurt ourselves."

Hudson was last seen starting for the San Francisco Giants in the seventh game of the World Series. The Giants won, making giving Hudson his first World Series title.

Proceeds for the Home Run Derby -- a $5 donation at the door -- will go to the Hudson's foundation that was established to help children with emotional or financial needs. 

"It's been an unbelievable blessing. It's been a great marriage," Hudson says.

Gates will open at 4:30. A little later, the Auburn men's basketball team will play across the street. The next night, the football team plays Samford.

Hudson has always been close to Auburn, even after showing up in the majors with Oakland, then Atlanta and now San Francisco. He finally got his World Series championship in October. He said this week he'll pitch in 2015, the last year of his contract, and then plans to retire.

That'll give him more time with his foundation. And with Auburn.

"It's such a special place, it was such a special time the two years I spent at Auburn," Hudson said. "It meant a lot to me because it taught me how to be a man, and this place taught me to be a professional baseball player."

His coach was Hal Baird, Auburn's all-time winningest baseball coach.

"Playing for Coach Baird was awesome. He's the true meaning of a pro, and he taught his players to be professional. I owe most, if not all my success, at the professional level to him," Hudson said.

Hudson was an All-American at Auburn. Here's part of the reason why: He was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and an All-American in 1996 after compiling a 15-2 record and 2.97 ERA. He also hit .396 with 18 home runs and 95 RBI.  

So that makes him a Home Run Derby favorite? "I only had two hits this year," he lamented.

Friday, he'll be joined in the home run derby by American League All-Star, and former Auburn player, Josh Donaldson; as well as former big-leaguer and Tiger Gabe Gross, former big leaguer Wes Helms, long-time major league and Auburn assistant Greg Norton, and former Tigers Hunter Morris, Ryan Jenkins, Trent Mummey, and Karl Ammonite.

Because of men's basketball Friday night, and the football game the next day, parking will be restricted to the stadium parking deck on Heisman Drive as well as the parking deck at the Athletics Complex and lots at the Village off Wire and Magnolia.

Hudson will arrive as a World Series champ, that coming in his 16th big league season.

"You wait so long in your career to try to experience something like that," Hudson said. "It's amazing that something you actually hope for and dream for you're able to accomplish it. Going out to San Francisco was the right choice for me."

Hudson said winning the World Series brought "some solid closure" to a career that had most everything but a championship.

"I've talked to a lot of people since then, and I can retire a happy man after being able to experience something like that," he said. 

There are no complaints.

"It's one of those things where, I shouldn't have been there. I shouldn't have been able to have a career as long as I did.... a small, right-handed pitcher from Salem, Alabama that had to walk on to a junior college out of high school. It's just one of those things where I've been very blessed, no question about it, and very, very happy to have had the career I've had."

And after next season, Hudson said, he can walk away.

"But I'm happy, honestly," he said. "Over the years, it's gotten to be a lot tougher than it was when I was younger, there's no question about it. The older you get, your skills diminish a little bit and it seems like all the younger players that come up in the big leagues nowadays, they're really good at a really young age. The game will let you know when you need to retire. Last year was a little bit of a grind for me at the end of the year. But I'm excited about getting ready for this year and finishing my career on a positive note and, hopefully, winning another championship."

And then he knows what he'll do next.

"I have a lot of time I want to make up with my kids," Hudson said. :"My son... I'm excited to catch up with him, coach his Little League teams, spend some time with them. You know, I love baseball. Baseball's always going to be in my blood, in my DNA, and something I'm always going to want to be a part of, whether it's coaching him, or volunteering somewhere, or helping young kids. I enjoy teaching the game and I enjoy trying to explain to kids, whether it's high school or college, how to be successful. You know, where they're playing at that point, but also beyond that."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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