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Trio To Be Inducted Into Cowboy Baseball HOF

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STILLWATER, Oklahoma -

Oklahoma State is reviving its Cowboy Baseball Hall of Fame, and three members will be inducted in the Class of 2014.

Danny Thompson, Billy Gasparino and Josh Fields will comprise the 2014 class, and the trio will be honored at the Cowboy Baseball First Pitch Banquet on Feb. 1, 2014.

The Cowboy Baseball Hall of Fame inducted its inaugural class in 1992 and includes 42 members. However, no one has been honored since 2004, when former head coach Gary Ward earned the recognition.

"The tradition of this program is a huge part of what makes it special, and it's a priority of our staff to honor and recognize our past players for their contributions," said OSU head coach Josh Holliday, who was inducted into the Cowboy Baseball HOF in 2003. "We have a lot of great history to celebrate, and on a yearly basis we look forward to bringing back the alumni to campus and celebrating the hall of fame with deserving candidates and using that energy to kick off our season and tie the generations together.

"This group is a great representation of our past. All three guys represent different eras of Cowboy baseball and were all overwhelming choices for the hall of fame."

A five-person committee selected the hall of fame inductees. The panel evaluated players based on their accomplishments at both Oklahoma State and the professional baseball level, paying special attention to those who were All-Americans, first-round draft picks and had Major League Baseball careers or who hold a significant position in the OSU record books.

"With 10 years of inactivity, there's a nice accumulation of worthy candidates that we'll look forward to honoring in the years to come," Holliday said. "We'll continue to put three-to-four members in on a yearly basis to catch up."

 

• Danny Thompson, SS, Capron, Okla. (1967-68) –Thompson spent two highly productive seasons in an OSU uniform, earning All-Big Eight Conference honors both years and playing on two College World Series teams.

As a junior in 1968, Thompson earned All-America honors after leading the Cowboys with a .349 batting average, five home runs and 11 doubles.

Thompson was a first-round draft pick twice in 1968, by Washington in the January secondary phase — he didn't sign — and then again by Minnesota in the June secondary phase. He played seven seasons in the major leagues from 1970-76 for Minnesota and Texas and was a .248 career hitter with 15 homers and 194 RBI. In 1975, he led all American League shortstops with a .270 batting average.

Thompson, who was diagnosed with leukemia before the 1973 MLB season, died in 1976 at the age of 29.

"When you look at Danny Thompson's career, he was a player that anyone who had close familiarity with OSU baseball felt was a no-brainer (for the hall of fame)," Holliday said. "He was one of the really fine players of his era, and his career after Oklahoma State would certainly reveal that.

"We're excited to honor him and his family and make sure that his place in Oklahoma State history is properly secured."

Thompson's OSU career statistics - 55 games, .315, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 13 2B, 4 3B, 4 SB

• Billy Gasparino, SS, Tampa, Fla. (1997-99) – Gasparino's name is prominent throughout the OSU record book following a three-year career in the late 1990s.

A three-time All-Big 12 performer, Gasparino is still the Big 12 leader in career runs with 257, and he ranks in the top 10 on the OSU career charts in runs, hits (252), doubles (62), homers (55), total bases (497), RBI (212), sacrifice flies (14) and hit by pitches (55). He also owns OSU's single-season record for assists with 221 set in 1997.

Gasparino, who played one year at Georgia before spending his final three collegiate seasons with the Cowboys, was a key member of OSU's last College World Series team in 1999. As a senior that season, he earned All-America honors from the NCBWA after hitting .364 with 24 home runs, 94 RBIs and 27 stolen bases to go along with a .757 slugging percentage.

An 18th-round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 1999, Gasparino is now the Director of Scouting for the San Diego Padres.

"(Gasparino) was as good a three-year player, statistically, as we've seen," said Holliday, who played alongside Gasparino at OSU. "His power numbers, stolen base numbers and career offensive numbers all rank in the top five-to-seven spots in virtually every category. To do all that and do it in a program where some of the greatest offensive players in history have played, it really shows you the type of career he had here.

"And as a major league front office guy, he's using not only his baseball skills, but his academic and educational component that he gained here to carry a very important career and we're very proud of that."

Gasparino's OSU career statistics - 186 games, .346, 55 HR, 212 RBI, 62 doubles, 9 triples, 71 SB

• Josh Fields, 3B, Stillwater, Okla. (2002-04) – Fields was a two-sport star for the Cowboys on both the baseball diamond and the football gridiron.

During his Cowboy baseball career, Fields was named a Freshman All-American in 2002 and went on to twice earn All-Big 12 honors. As a junior in 2004, he helped lead OSU to its only Big 12 title as the Cowboys won the Big 12 Baseball Championship in Arlington, Texas; Fields was named to the all-tournament team that year.

In June 2004, Fields was a first-round draft pick (18th overall) of the Chicago White Sox. He has played for both the White Sox and Royals in five major league seasons and spent 2011 as a member of the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. In 2013, he played for Lehigh Valley, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

"I've got to believe Josh Fields had one of the most enjoyable college experiences an athlete could ever have, starring both in baseball and football," Holliday said. "He was a part of the booming start of Cowboy football with the Cotton Bowl team (in 2004), and he was a great pure hitter from the day he stepped on campus in baseball. He was a first-round draft choice and had a major league career, and he continues to work his way back to the big leagues after some injuries.

"He's a guy that in modern Cowboy baseball history and Oklahoma State athletics history is a real figure that people can look at and say, ‘That guy brought a lot to the school.'"

Fields' OSU career statistics - 163 games, .364, 25 HR, 131 RBI, 40 doubles, 7 triples, 10 SB

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