Tim Hudson is 39 years old and has been a big-league pitcher for 16 seasons, never even sniffing a World Series.
The big stage awaits the little kid from Phenix City who had big dreams. Hudson will be the starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of the World Series against Kansas City in AT&T Park. The game will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday and air on Fox.
"It's awesome," Hudson told Fox Sports Wednesday night during an interview during Game 2 in Kansas City. "This is something you dream about as a kid — getting to the World Series."
Those dreams were cultivated on Phenix City youth fields: Glenwood School, Chattahoochee Valley Community College and Auburn University. And those who were there along the way, will be watching with great pride.
CVCC Coach Adam Thomas caught Hudson when the two played at CVCC in the early 1990s. They had been on the same Little League and Dixie Majors teams growing up.
Thomas could not be more excited for his former teammate and friend.
"I don't remember ever talking about the World Series as kids, but we certainly talked about playing pro ball," Thomas said. "Here is what stands out to me, though. It may be good for our program and good for the community that Timmy is doing this. But I think its great for him because he has worked so hard for this and he has earned it. … I hope he gets that ring and gets to jump into that dog pile."
Hudson, who started his Major League career in Oakland, played nine seasons in Atlanta before leaving via free agency last year.
With 214 major league wins, Hudson has more than any other active pitcher in the game.
In Oakland and Atlanta, he never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. This year, he has made two playoff starts without a decision. In the National League Divisional Series, he went more than seven innings in a game against Washington that the Giants won in the 18th inning. In the NL Championship Series against St. Louis, he went more than six innings in a game the Giants also won in extra innings.
San Francisco's players have been vocal about their pleasure in giving Hudson the chance to accomplish something he has never accomplished in a lengthy and distinguished career.
"I totally got where there are coming from," said B.R. Johnson, Hudson's coach at CVCC. "He has always been special. He was liked by everybody on our team. He was a great teammate. He never thought he was better than anyone else. If we won, he was right there with them. If we lost, he was devastated."
Flint Sharpe coached Hudson for four seasons when he was 15 to 18 years old in Dixie Baseball.
Sharpe said there is one primary reason Hudson still playing — and still pitching.
"Timmy has always been the underdog," Sharpe said. "He has something you can't coach — and never could. Timmy has heart and passion for the game. He had it when he was 15, and he has it today."
Sharpe remembers the first time he met Hudson. Sharpe had been recruited to coach a Dixie League team at Darnell Field in Phenix City. Hudson was a 15 year old going through tryouts.
"I had a list of all the kids trying out, and I knew some of the kids," Sharpe said. "I went to some kids I knew and asked about the kids on the list. All of them pointed to Timmy and said, 'He's the best one out here.'"
Sharpe took Hudson in the first round.
"It was obvious back then," Sharpe said. "The other kids saw it."
Hudson pitched some in Little League, but did not really start throwing until he was 15. And Sharpe was the first one to put him on the mound.
"He was raw," Sharpe said. "I think his first pitch went halfway up the backstop, but he figured it out pretty quick."
Hudson has battled through injuries that could have easily ended his career. He has had back surgery, Tommy John ligament transplant surgery and last year an ankle surgery.
"It is amazing to me how hard he has worked to get through the injuries," Sharpe said.
Hudson has even caused his former Auburn coach, Hal Baird, to alter his allegiance in the World Series. Baird played six years of minor league baseball, much of it in the Royals farm system.
"My wife was asking me about it the other night," Baird said. "She asked if I had mixed emotions or was conflicted. I told her blood was thicker than water and Tim is blood. I am happy for Kansas City. And I am happy for Tim. I am a Giants guy all the way."
Baird also knows how special it is for Hudson to experience the playoffs and World Series.
"October baseball is the ultimate thing," Baird said. "Here Tim has come full circle. He was in the College World Series, There is nothing in front of World Series this time. He's in the World Series."
Baird has also allowed himself to look ahead. If the World Series goes to seven games — and the series is tied 1-1 now — there is a possibility Hudson could be the Giants starter in that deciding game.
"Think about that," Baird said. "When we all played backyard whiffle ball as 7 year olds, we all dreamed of playing in the seventh game of a World Series.