Former Auburn baseball great Frank Thomas, the lone Southeastern Conference player in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, will have a statue erected in his honor at Plainsman Park. Approval of the statue was completed during the Auburn University Board of Trustees meeting on Friday.
The dedication of the statue will take place during the 2023 Auburn baseball season. Specific detailed information about the statue location and dedication date will be announced in the future.
“I am extremely humbled and thrilled to be honored with a statue at Auburn University where it all began,” Thomas said. “Thank you to Allen Greene, head coach Butch Thompson, the Athletic Department and the Board of Trustees for placing me among a few Auburn elites. Thank you for selecting me as Auburn’s first baseball player to receive this special recognition.”
A native of Columbus, Georgia, Thomas played baseball at Auburn as a first baseman from 1987 to 89 and was a tight end on the Auburn football team, lettering as a freshman in 1986. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014, becoming the first and only SEC baseball player to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
“At Auburn I became a man,” Thomas said. I was blessed to have Coach Pat Dye and his staff who pushed me to new heights and instilled football toughness and a will to win that I never knew existed. I was also lucky enough to have coach Hal Baird and his baseball staff to help mold and prepare me for the next level. My Hall of Fame career that followed resulted from hard work, dedication and commitment. I was also taught at Auburn that there are no shortcuts to success, all of which I carry with me to this day. War Damn Eagle!”
During his Auburn career, Thomas was a three-time All-SEC performer and was a consensus All-American as a junior in 1989. He led the conference in hitting in 1988 and 1989 with .385 and .403 batting averages, respectively. His 21 home runs led the league in 1987. He is the only Auburn player in program history to win the team Triple Crown twice and led the team in home runs and RBIs in each of his three seasons.
“Before he struck fear in the hearts of major league pitchers for 19 seasons, Frank Thomas made a name for himself at Plainsman Park, blasting 49 home runs for the Auburn Tigers from 1987-89 and hitting .403 as a senior,” said Director of Athletics Allen Greene. “As the only Southeastern Conference inductee in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, ‘The Big Hurt’ is most deserving of this honor, a larger-than-life statue for an iconic Auburn man.”
The seventh overall pick of the 1989 Major League Baseball Draft by the Chicago White Sox, Thomas played 19 years, including 16 with the White Sox before concluding his career with Oakland and Toronto. A five-time All-Star from 1993 to 97, Thomas was the American League Most Valuable Player in 1993 and 1994. Thomas also won the AL batting title in 1997 with a .347 average.
He is the only player in major league history with seven consecutive seasons (1991-97) with at least a .300 batting average, 100 runs batted in, 100 runs scored, 100 walks and 20 home runs.
“I couldn’t think of a better time to make this exciting announcement than in conjunction with alumni weekend,” said Auburn head coach Butch Thompson. “Frank is not only one of the best to ever put on an Auburn uniform, but he is one of the greatest in the history of our amazing league and still stands as the only member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame from the Southeastern Conference. This dedication is more than deserved, and we can’t wait to see it come to fruition at Plainsman Park.”
Thomas, 53, concluded his big-league career with 2,468 hits, 521 home runs, 1,704 runs batted in, 1,484 runs scored, a .301 batting average and an OPS of .974. Thomas and Hall of Famers Mel Ott, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams are the only players 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.
Thomas announced his retirement on Feb. 12, 2010, and had his No. 35 jersey retired by the White Sox later that season.