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'Just like making a big league debut' - Auburn baseball stars enjoy reunion
Four of Auburn's 50 major leaguers (l/r): Garrett Cooper, Josh Donaldson, David Ross, Tim Hudson. Photo: Anthony Hall/Auburn Athletics
Nov. 30, 2017


By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. - The adrenaline rush Garrett Cooper felt at Jordan-Hare Stadium reminded him of a similar surge. The one he experienced four months earlier at Fenway Park.

"It's just like making a big league debut," Cooper said during Auburn's 40-17 win over Georgia, when he was introduced as Auburn's 50th major leaguer. "This is the same kind of atmosphere that I felt when I went up there and did that."

Traded from Milwaukee to the Yankees in July, Cooper batted .326 with six of his 14 hits going for extra bases.

"The first few days, I felt like I'd never played baseball before," said Cooper, who attracted the Yankees' interest after batting .366 with 17 homers in 75 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs. "It was like everything was new. As soon as I got that first hit, everything felt back to normal, like I was back playing in the minor leagues. Everything connected for me."

Cooper's impressive big league beginning prompted the Miami Marlins to trade for him on Nov. 11, nine days after his introduction on Pat Dye Field with fellow big leaguers Tim Hudson, David Ross and Josh Donaldson.

"I've never been on the field for this since I got recruited here about six years ago," said Cooper, who batted .340 for Auburn in 2012-13. "Just being in this atmosphere, and seeing this No. 1 vs. No. 10 matchup is something that people can only dream of, coming on the field."

From his offseason home in Atlanta, Cooper closely follows Butch Thompson's program.

"I thought he was a perfect candidate," Cooper said. "It shows what he's doing with the program with a top 4 or top 5 recruiting class. He's one of the better human beings I've met in this college baseball carousel, where you meet a lot of guys. He's nothing but great for this program."

<em> 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson played for Auburn from 2005-07</em>
2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson played for Auburn from 2005-07

Donaldson, the 2015 American League Most Valuable Player, keeps up with the Tigers from Canada.

"I follow the program pretty regularly," said Donaldson, entering his fourth season with the Toronto Blue Jays. "Butch Thompson was a coach of mine when I was at Auburn, so I still keep track, following the guys. Gabe Gross, I've played with in Oakland. Karl Nonemaker was also here.

"From everything I'm hearing and everything I'm seeing, everything's moving in the right direction. I've always been a big supporter of Auburn."

<em> Two-time World Series champion David Ross acknowledges cheers during Auburn's win over Georgia. Photo: Anthony Hall/Auburn Athletics</em>
Two-time World Series champion David Ross acknowledges cheers during Auburn's win over Georgia. Photo: Anthony Hall/Auburn Athletics

Ross, who retired after his Game 7 home run in the 2016 World Series helped the Chicago Cubs win their first championship in 108 years, received a loud ovation, 20 years after his homer propelled Auburn to the College World Series.

"I don't let a minute go by not following Auburn Tigers," said Ross, who teamed with Hudson on the '97 Tigers and 12 years later for four seasons with the Atlanta Braves. "And Huddy keeps me up to date when I slip a little bit.

"It's amazing. People treat me so well. It's been a great weekend. It's nice to be back at Auburn and see all of these wonderful people."

<em> Tim Hudson won 222 MLB games and helped the San Francisco Giants win the 2014 World Series.</em>
Tim Hudson won 222 MLB games and helped the San Francisco Giants win the 2014 World Series.

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

 

 

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