Former college star Donaldson donates to Auburn

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Josh Donaldson, Major League Baseball MVP, has made a leadership gift to support Auburn baseball.

By Kirk Sampson
Auburn Athletics

Auburn, Ala. – Former Auburn player Josh Donaldson, the 2015 American League Most Valuable Player and a current Toronto Blue Jay, has made a leadership gift to support Auburn’s baseball program through Auburn Athletics’ Fearless and True campaign.

“Auburn gave me every opportunity to become the player I am today,” said Donaldson, who played for the Tigers from 2005-07. “I really enjoyed being at Auburn and being part of the Auburn family.”

When Donaldson played for the Tigers, Auburn’s current head coach Butch Thompson was an assistant coach.

“Butch is a great man, first of all. He has a lot of character,” Donaldson said. “From everything I’m hearing and seeing, everything’s moving in the right direction. I’ve always been a big supporter of Auburn.”

Donaldson’s significant gift will help construct a player development facility at Plainsman Park and was a major factor in its approval Friday by Auburn University’s Board of Trustees. The baseball facility enhancement, a 10,000-square-foot addition next to right field, will include indoor batting cage tunnels and player evaluation spaces.

“In Josh’s time at Auburn, you knew he was bound for greatness, the way he played the game,” Thompson said. “Josh recognizes that Auburn played a huge role in his development as one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball. I’m so thankful he wants to step up to the plate and give back to a program that helped launch his unbelievable career.”

Donaldson contacted Thompson, offering to invest in Auburn’s program.

“He reached out and said, ‘What can I do to help with Auburn baseball?’” Thompson said. “Our former players have been so great. They recognize their time at Auburn is special. They want our current and future student-athletes to have every resource and opportunity they had. This facility will improve our workspace, especially in inclement weather, allowing us to hit inside. It’s a player development investment that will benefit every player in our program.”

One of 50 former Auburn Tigers to play Major League Baseball, Donaldson made his MLB debut for Oakland in 2010. After making the 2014 All-Star team, Donaldson was traded to Toronto, where he won the 2015 MVP Award and was an All-Star in 2015 and 2016.

“Josh’s tremendous skill as a professional athlete is exceeded only by his generosity to his alma mater,” said Director of Athletics Allen Greene, a former professional baseball player in the New York Yankees’ organization. “Josh epitomizes what it means to be an Auburn man. He believes in Auburn and loves it. His investment will allow our student-athletes to wholeheartedly pursue their big league dreams.”

Donaldson returns often to Auburn in the offseason, frequently attending football games at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

“Philanthropic giving from the Auburn Family provides opportunities for our student-athletes to achieve greatness,” said Tim Jackson, executive director for Tigers Unlimited. “Josh benefited during his time at Auburn and is now truly “paying it forward” by giving back to Auburn. He not only paves the way for student-athletes to thrive, but he raises the bar for the entire Auburn Family to follow his lead.”