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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Interviews from today's Wall of Fame ceremonies

We're covering a basketball game, but here are some quotes from today's Wall of Fame ceremony at Plainsman Park that honored former Auburn greats Bo Jackson, Greg Olson, Frank Thomas and Tim Hudson.

BO JACKSON (1983-86)
(How was the weekend)
"Today was the first day I saw some of my old teammates. I haven’t seen them in 20-something years. It’s just the camaraderie that you have spending three or four years with guys, riding the Southeast on a bus and having a good time."
(All four of you are good)
"Well, everybody is great within their own right. To be mentioned in the same sentence as Tim Hudson, Greg Olson and Frank Thomas, you've had to do something right. ... It's great to come back here and reminisce."
(Talk about Hal Baird)
"I put Coach Baird in the same mold I put Coach (Pat) Dye in. Coach Baird is not as vocal as Coach Dye, but they got the same point across to their players, which is go out and play hard and everything will pay off in the long run.
(Talk about your Auburn baseball career?)
"A lot of people say, 'Bo Jackson is just about football.’ I took just as much pride coming out on this baseball field."
GREGG OLSON (1986-88)
(How great is it to be in the inaugural Wall of Fame class)
"I think it's great. You look at the guys you go in with and that was probably one of my favorite stories from the weekend. A couple of Missouri guys were coming back from practice after Thursday night and we were just checking in. We started talking and it was late at night for practice, and they were out here at about 9 o'clock. He goes, yeah, we're pretty excited because Bo Jackson, Tim Hudson and Frank Thomas are going into the Hall of Fame this weekend. I was like, Cool. All right. Fourth wheel. But to go in with these guys is great. I haven't seen Bo and Frank for a while. So it's a huge honor."
(You ever get back to Auburn?)
"Everything's changed. All the roads that I used to drive around on here are dead ends into buildings and sororities, so I'm completely clueless where I'm going here. I don't get back enough. I've gotten back about once in the last eight years. I've got four kids and we live in Southern California, so it's not real easy to get back. Planning on, oh, let's go play to a football game this year. Something happens and I've got all three kids in sports and can't make it. But it's definitely something I need to do more. And every time I'm here I regret not being here more."
(Why did you choose Auburn?)
"It's funny. I look back and it's one of those decisions that I don't really know why I made it. And I'm not saying that negatively because I've been asked that question: would I change anything. And in hindsight, I wouldn't change a thing. Knowing what I know, I still would have come here. It was three of the best years of my life. It was an unbelievable decision that I don't think I had all the information that I probably needed to have. It came down to Mississippi State, Arizona and Auburn. And the other two had some things that I didn't necessarily like. And Auburn nothing ... I'm trying to word this correctly. It didn't have anything I didn't like. A couple double negatives. But it was perfect, so 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."
(Baird said you helped this program turn the program in the late '80s)
"I never really looked at it that way, but it was funny. While I was in the big leagues and going on a rehab stint, I ran into so many people that were major leaguers or minor leaguers that I recruited. So we brought a lot of people in here and it seemed like I took them all on recruiting trips and some of them came, some of them signed, some didn 't. I never looked at it like I had this influence on the program. It was just, I'm here and I'm doing well and it's part of my responsibility to bring more guys here. So I never looked at it like I was the guy that made it turn the program. When he said it, I was kind of looking at him like, 'Hal, come on.' So it wasn't a point I really thought about. "
FRANK THOMAS (1987-89)
(Does it feel nice to be back in Auburn?)
"Auburn is Auburn. I’m just happy to be back in the old stomping grounds. I spent so many days going to visit my parents back in Columbus and all the familiar roads. I made the bus go all the way down to Toomer’s Corner. I wanted to make sure it was still standing and it looks great still. I’m just proud to be back here."

(How does it feel to be in the first class on the wall)

"It’s tremendous, especially with so many talented guys. They had a hell of college careers but also unbelievable pro careers. It’s a proud day for Auburn baseball."

(What are your memories of Baird?)

"At the time Hal definitely pushed me. He would always compare and say, ‘Bo could go on top of that building out there in centerfield.’ I said, ‘Yea, you’re right.’ He said, ‘Maybe if you work out a little harder maybe you can accomplish some of those things.’ I was like, ‘Coach, there’s only one Bo Jackson.’ But he pushed me and got me ready to play at the next level. I’m thankful for that and it was so good to see Hal today."

(What are you doing now that you're retired?)

"I’m going to take it one day at a time. Nineteen years of this at the major league level, it took a toll on my life. I didn’t get to see the kids grow up like I wanted to see them grow up. You miss so much valuable time with the kids. I’m just happy to pause and take a break right now and just enjoy life a little bit."

(Any chance you'll get a job in baseball?)

"I’ve been offered a little T.V. work with Comcast Chicago so we’ll see how that works out. I just don’t want to get involved full time with anything right now. I would definitely love to get back in the next few years helping hitters or whatever else in major league baseball."

(What are you most proud of in your career?)

“Staying clean and doing it the right way."

TIM HUDSON (1996-97)

(Talk about being inducted to the Wall of Fame)

"It's a tremendous honor. Just to be able to come back and be included in a group with Frank Thomas, Bo Jackson and Gregg Olson, it's an honor. I'm thrilled to death that Auburn thought enough about me and my career to include me in such a group. It's always great to come back to Auburn and I just feel welcome. It's a big family and it's great to be back."
(Do you still have Auburn ties?)
"I do. I'm from only about a half hour from here so my mom and dad live in Auburn now and we're building a house here in Auburn. We're actually going to be living here full-time this coming offseason. It's a place that we're happy. We love it here and the people here are awesome. They've always made me and my family feel welcome and it's a place I'm going to put down my roots."
(How did the SEC prepare you for the next level?)
It was vital. Just playing at Auburn, this caliber of a conference in the SEC, it does nothing but get you better for the next level. After I got drafted, A-ball was a little bit of a step down from SEC caliber. Wasn't quite as good as Double A but it definitely got you better and got you ready for what to expect at the next level. I'm just thrilled to have the opportunity to play here and play under coach Baird. It was obviously vital in not only my career but all the other pitchers that came through here.
(Are you healthy this season?)
"I feel tremendous right now physically. There's no limitations. I came back last year and pitched at the end of the year and I felt pretty good. Didn't feel like I was quite 100 percent but I was good enough to go out and pitch. Hopefully give Braves or whatever team that was interested in me to sign me and luckily the Braves thought that I came back strong enough and extend me a few years. Right now I feel the best I've felt in, gosh, I can't remember how many years. It's great to be able to go out and pitch and feel strong and not feel like you're limited in any way physically. It's something that a pitcher, as he gets through his career, later in his career, you feel like there are a few limitations. But right now I feel like I was when I was 25."

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