Earlier this month at the annual Night of Champions celebration in Lubbock, Texas, Valdosta State baseball coach Tommy Thomas was inducted as the next member of the elite fraternity that is the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.
It’s almost impossible to summarize Thomas’s contributions to Valdosta State college baseball as a whole. When Thomas' storied career came to an end in 2007, the former Blazers skipper had logged a whopping 1,308 victories, the most in Division II history, and No. 16 all-time in any division NCAA baseball.
“We are excited to induct this class,” said Mike Gustafson, president and CEO of the National College Baseball Hall of Fame. “It is remarkable that this is our 11th induction class and they are this accomplished.”
Thomas joins six other honorees of the 2016 class. His name will be added alongside former Houston Cougars star Tom Paciorek and Arizona State legend Rick Monday, both of whom went on to established big-league careers, former Texas Longhorns head coach Augie Garrido, former Marietta College right-hander Matt Desalvo, legendary Jackson State coach Robert Braddy, and Valdosta native J.D. Drew, who played 14 years in the bigs leagues after batting .465 with 31 home runs his junior year at Florida State.
During his illustrious tenure, which included 25 years as a member of the Gulf South Conference, Thomas led Valdosta State to two conference championships and a 1979 National Title. He ranks third-all time in the conference record books with 759 league wins, and in 2006 was voted to the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Thomas joins an impressive group that includes all-time legend and Columbia University standout Lou Gehrig, former Mississippi State star Will Clark, World Series hero and Wichita State baseball product Joe Carter, long-time big-league pitcher and Michigan ace Jim Abbott, the great UCLA star Jackie Robinson and Southern University alumnus Lou Brock.
The National College Baseball Hall of Fame may be reserved for the best of the best, but there’s no question Thomas is right where he belongs.