A pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, Hancock died early Sunday morning as the result of a traffic accident in St. Louis. Hancock, who was 29 years old, was a star at Vestavia Hills High prior to pitching for Baird at Auburn.
"I was deeply saddened by the tragic news of the loss of Josh Hancock," Baird said. "He was a very special talent. I had the opportunity of seeing him in spring training last year while pitching for the Cardinals and he was in great spirits and it was obvious that his career was really on the up-turn.
"It's a terrible loss for Josh and his family and the Auburn baseball family," Baird added. "My thoughts and prayers go out to them in this difficult time."
Hancock pitched on Auburn's 1997 College World Series squad, the last AU team to reach the series in Omaha. As a pro Hancock pitched for the Boston Red Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds before joining the Cardinals in 2006 as St. Louis won the World Series.
Slater, who is in his third season as head coach at Auburn, said, "Josh was a part of arguably the best pitching staff and arguably the best team ever to play at Auburn. It is a shame whenever anyone dies, especially someone as young as Josh, in a tragic accident. It makes everyone feel thankful for the moments we have. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hancock family."
AU athletic director Jay Jacobs said, "The Auburn family is extremely saddened by the tragic loss of Josh Hancock. We extend our thoughts and prayers to the entire Hancock family."