AUBURN — After a prolific career with Auburn, and a historic career in the MLB that ended with an induction at Cooperstown, Frank Thomas has a statue outside of Plainsman Park.

"Without further adieu, our Hall of Famer, our legend, our pride, the Big Hurt Frank Thomas." Those were the words Tim Jackson, the executive director of the Tigers Unlimited Foundation, used to introduce Frank Thomas at a celebration of Thomas' life, achievements, and impact on Auburn University.

After starting out on a football scholarship at Auburn, Thomas had a productive three-year career at Auburn that saw his batting average never slip below .359 and improve each season, along with 49 career home runs and 205 RBIs in the orange-and-blue.

"I loved football, I was good at it, but for some reason when I walked onto that baseball field I became great," Thomas said.

From there, Thomas went to the MLB and became a legend. A two-time MVP and four-time silver slugger, Thomas had an outstanding 16-yard career with the Chicago White Sox. During his historic run early in his career, he became the only player in MLB history to finish seven consecutive seasons with at least a .300 batting average, 100 RBIs, 100 runs, 100 walks and 20 home runs.

He still holds eight White Sox franchise records, for home runs (448), RBI (1,465), runs (1,327), doubles (447), extra-base hits, walks (1,466), slugging percentage (.568) and on-base percentage (.427).

After his time with the White Sox ended in 2005, Thomas headed to Oakland and join the Athletics. At 38 years old, Thomas showed he was not done yet, finishing the 2006 season with 39 home runs and 114 RBIs. The next year, then with the Toronto Blue Jays, Thomas sent 26 home runs, crossing 500 in his career and knocked in 95 more RBIs.

When he retired in 2008, he was just the seventh player in MLB history to end his career with a batting average of at least .300. Thomas finished with .301.

He is the first baseball player with a statue on the Plains, and only the second non-football athletic statue on Auburn's campus.

"What we're doing today is something that is not taken lightly, it is for someone who has made an incredible impact on this university, which Frank has," said Tim Jackson on how selective Auburn is in building statues, further emphasizing Thomas' accomplishments.

Thomas credited current Auburn head coach Butch Thompson and former athletic director Allen Greene for approaching him with the news last year.

"I also got to say thank you to Allen Greene, who is no longer here, and Coach Thompson," Thomas said.

Thompson has been the only coach in program history to go to the College World Series twice in three postseasons, building off of the success Thomas and head coach Hal Baird experienced in the 1980s. Thompson recognizes the importance of getting a statue built for Auburn baseball, and the exposure it could bring with Thomas' national brand.

"It makes greatness possible, I get to represent an amazing group of student-athletes that are in the room," Thompson said. "To get to a day like this marks growth, exponential growth, and I know the best is yet to come."

Thomas was surrounded by his family, former teammates and coaches and hundreds of fans, some of whom even chanted "Go White Sox" throughout the morning.

"Today is the right, perfect day and I want to thank the Auburn Family," Thomas said. "War damn Eagle."

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