Butch Thompson: Head Baseball Coach, Auburn University- 2016-Present
Butch Thompson was named Auburn's head baseball coach, Auburn Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs announced on October 22, 2015. Thompson, who spent three seasons as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Auburn from 2006-08, returns to the Plains after seven seasons at Mississippi State as both associate head coach and pitching coach.
Widely regarded as one of the premier pitching coaches in the country, Thompson was named the 2014 Baseball America and American Baseball Coaches Association National Assistant Coach of the Year while at Mississippi State.
In 23 years of coaching at the collegiate level, including 13 in the Southeastern Conference, Thompson has coached seven College World Series participants, including a national runner-up finish, won nine conference championships and made 14 postseason appearances. He has also served as an assistant under three National Coach of the Year recipients.
In seven seasons at MSU, Thompson made four NCAA regional trips, two Super Regionals, won the SEC Tournament and advanced to the College World Series finishing as NCAA runner-up in 2013. In three of the last four seasons, the Bulldogs' staff ERA finished no higher than 3.06. Thompson's 2013 pitching staff was one of two nationally to finish in the top 15 in ERA, strikeouts per nine innings and hits allowed per nine innings.
Additionally, Mississippi State was 168-4 under Thompson the last four seasons when holding a lead after eight innings.
Thompson is considered one of the top recruiters in the country. Since 2003, he has secured nine recruiting classes that were ranked in the top 10 by either Baseball America or Perfect Game. His classes signed from 2006-08 at Auburn each ranked in the top 18 nationally including the No. 5 class nationally in 2008 which included All-American and SEC Player of the Year Hunter Morris.
Player development has been equally important for Thompson, who has turned 23 student-athletes who went undrafted out of high school into Major League Baseball draft picks.
A native of Amory, Miss., Thompson has coached 22 Division I All-Americans and 29 all-conference honors. In 2014, former Mississippi State pitcher Kendall Graveman became the ninth player Thompson tutored to pitch in the big leagues.
Thompson had three pitchers drafted in the first 11 rounds of the 2014 MLB Draft, and in 2013 five of his pitchers were drafted including three in the top 10 rounds.
In addition to his experience at Auburn and Mississippi State, Thompson also spent five seasons at Georgia from 2002-05, including a trip to the College World Series in 2004.
Thompson launched his coaching career as pitching coach and top assistant at Huntingdon College (Montgomery, Ala.) in 1993, before returning to his alma mater in Birmingham, where he helped lead the Panthers to back-to-back Southern States Conference championships and in 1995 coached BSC to its first NAIA World Series berth.
Thompson left BSC briefly to serve as head coach at Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham in 1997. While at JSCC, he was honored as the Regional Tournament Coach of the Year, the ABCA Alabama Junior College Coach of the Year and the Southeast Region Coach of the Year after guiding JSCC to a 39-21 mark, the AJCAA Region 22 State Championship and a third-place finish in the NJCAA Division II World Series.
He returned to Birmingham-Southern as top assistant the following season, beginning a four-year run during the most successful span in BSC baseball history. The Panthers won 196 games and four TranSouth Conference championships and made three-consecutive appearances in the NAIA World Series. BSC's 2001 team posted a school-best 55-11 mark and captured the NAIA National Championship.
In 2002, Thompson joined the SEC baseball coaching fraternity, beginning a four-year term as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. Georgia's 2003 recruiting class was ranked 10th nationally, while capturing the SEC title in 2004 en route to advancing to the NCAA College World Series.
Thompson, honored as the 2006 Fellowship of Christian Athletes SEC Coach of the Year, has shared his expertise as a featured speaker at numerous baseball coaching clinics throughout the United States.
Thompson prepped at Amory (Miss.) High School and later starred as a pitcher at Itawamba (Miss.) Community College from 1989-90. On Oct. 25, 2014, Thompson was inducted into the ICC Athletic Hall of Fame.
He earned a bachelor's degree in history at BSC in 1992 and completed a master's degree in sports administration at UAB in 1996. He is married to the former Robin Ashe of Birmingham, Ala., and they are the parents of three daughters --- Anna, Olivia and Madelyn Gail.
Hal Baird: Head Baseball Coach, Auburn University- 1985-2000
In 1985, Hal Baird became the head coach at Auburn University where he remained until his retirement in 2000. While at Auburn, he became the schools most successful head coach in history, winning a total of 634 games and he led his team to the 1994 College World Series and the 1997 College World Series. He is a member of the East Carolina University athletic Hall of Fame. Hal Baird was a standout in baseball for 15 years as a player, assistant coach and head coach at East Carolina (ECU). A 1971 ECU graduate, Baird helped the Pirates to a Southern Conference title and a NCAA Tournament appearance in 1970. In the league championship game against George Washington, Baird struck out a Southern Conference record 20 batters. His 105 strikeouts in 1971 ranks among the top performances in school history.
His record as coach of the Auburn Tigers is 634-328-0. From 1985-2001 he won more baseball games than any coach in Auburn history. His overall coaching record is 779-394-1 (.663). Baird guided the Tigers to three NCAA Regional titles, an SEC Western Division Championship and an SEC Tournament Championship and 10 times during Baird's Auburn tenure his teams finish the season ranked in the top 25. His Auburn teams won at least 30 games in every season he was the head coach and the program participated in nine NCAA Regionals during his stay, including seven in his last eight years at Auburn.
Baird was named head coach at Auburn in 1985 and immediately turned things around. The Tigers had suffered through three consecutive 10th-place conference finishes and one eighth-place mark in the previous four years. Auburn showed improvement with a 30-22 record in his first season and, in 1986, advanced to the SEC Tournament for the first time in six years, finishing third in the league standings. By 1987 Baird had led the Tigers to a 42-18 mark and an 18-9 conference record with a third-place finish in the SEC. Both the overall and conference wins set new Auburn records for a single season, both of which he topped later on in his career.
Baird's 1995 team not only won 40 games, but it did so quicker than any team in SEC history, taking just 45 games to reach that accomplishment. Auburn won the SEC Western Division en route to finishing with a school-best record of 50-13 and, for the first time in school history, the 1995 Tigers were the No. 1 seed at an NCAA Regional and spent part of the season as the top-ranked team in the country. During the 1990s, Baird's teams won 68.1 percent of their games.
Gabe Gross: Auburn Outfielder- 1999-2001
Gross was a three-year starter in the Auburn outfield from 1999-01. A career .375 hitter, he hit a blistering .430 in his All-America campaign of 2000. He remains in the school's top-10 for career doubles (68, second), extra-base hits (108, third), walks (145, third), RBI (218, fourth), total bases (442, fifth), home runs (35, eighth) and hits (259, ninth). A first round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2001, he enjoyed a seven-year big league career, hitting .239 with 78 doubles, eight triples, 40 home runs and 186 RBI while playing for four different teams.
Scott Sullivan: Auburn Pitcher- 1991-1993
Sullivan came to Auburn in 1991 as both a pitcher and position player but left as a second-round pick in 1993 after compiling a three-year ERA of 3.84 with 138 strikeouts in 124.1 innings, mostly out of the bullpen. His junior season was his finest in an Auburn uniform as he led the Auburn pitching staff with a 2.55 ERA before being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds.
Sullivan debuted in the big leagues just two years after being drafted by the Reds and went on to play nine full seasons, including seven with Cincinnati after appearing in three games in his debut season of 1995. In 558 career appearances in the big leagues, he went 40-28 with nine saves and a 3.98 ERA in 737.1 innings. His 494 appearances on the mound in a Reds uniform still ranks second in franchise history, behind Pedro Bourbon.
Tim Hudson: Auburn Pitcher/Outfielder- 1996-1997
Hudson transferred to Auburn University in the fall of 1995 where he would play two seasons for the Tigers. He is still at or near the top of many school records. In 1997, he played all 65 games for the Tigers while both pitching and playing outfield. That season, he hit .396 with 18 home runs and 95 RBI. As a pitcher, he finished 15–2 with a 2.97 ERA to earn SEC Player of the Year and consensus All-American honors. Tim was the first player to be named First Team All-SEC at two positions (P,OF) in the same year. He was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 6th round of the 1997 amateur draft.
Tim is recently retired from major league baseball after 17 seasons. He played for the Oakland Athletics (1999-2004), the Atlanta Braves (2005-2013), and the San Francisco Giants (2014-2015). Tim was named to the MLB All-Star team four times in his career, twice with Oakland, once with Atlanta, and once with San Francisco. Before retiring in 2015, Tim was the winningest active Major League pitcher, as well as one of four active pitchers with at least 200 wins. Tim finished with a career record of 222-133. With a win against the Oakland A’s in July of 2015, he became only the 15th pitcher in Major League history to win a game against all 30 Major League teams. Tim is one of only twenty-one pitchers in Major League history to win at least 200 games, strikeout 2,000 batters, and have a win-loss percentage above 0.600. Of those twenty-one pitchers, fourteen of them are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 2014, Tim became a World Series Champion with the San Francisco Giants.
Josh Etheredge: Auburn- 1995-1998
Josh Etheredge was a member of the Auburn baseball program from 1995-1998 under legendary Head Coach, Hal Baird. Josh played in 222 games during his Auburn career, as he was a mainstay in the Auburn line-up with a power bat. Josh helped lead the Tigers to three NCAA Regional appearances and one College World Series during his time on the plains. Etheredge currently ranks in Auburn Baseball’s Top 10 all time in numerous career categories including: games played (9th), runs (t-3rd), RBI (1st), doubles (t-8th), home runs (1st), extra base hits (2nd), total bases (2nd), multi-home run games (t-1st), multi-RBI games (1st), base on balls (t-6th), hit by pitch (t-1st), and slugging percentage (5th). Etheredge hit 21 home runs during his senior season in 1998, leading the Tigers to the SEC Tournament Championship and an NCAA Regional appearance. He also hit .340 and drove home 90 runs in 1998 as the Tigers finished the season with a 46-18 record. Following the 1998 season, Josh was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 17th round of the MLB Draft.