As Gene Faszholz delivered his Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame speech in 2014, he informed listeners that he was “born into a very athletic family.” And that’s putting it mildly. A 2008 story in the Oakland Tribune (California) referred to Gene and his four brothers as the “Fab Faszholz Five.” Gene was the middle brother between the eldest, Dick and Jack, and the youngest, Dave and Tom. They also have a sister Kay.
The children of Richard and Mamie, the Fab Faszholz Five were rooted in St. Louis, Mo., until the family moved to Seattle in 1934 and then to Berkeley, Calif., in 1938. Each of the brothers emerged out of Oakland’s Concordia High School (enrollment of roughly 150), which is no longer in operation. Before going further, consider a summary of their eventual exploits:
The Faszholz brothers
· Dick – played for USA basketball team that captured gold at the 1951 Pan American Games.
· Jack – played 12 seasons of professional baseball and reached the big leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953.
· Gene – played eight seasons of professional baseball within the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Braves organizations; is a CUNE alum and member of the Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame.
· Dave – played two seasons of professional baseball within the New York Yankees organization; is a CUNE alum and a member of the Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame.
· Tom – selected in the 10th round of the 1961 NBA draft by the St. Louis Hawks.
Today Gene continues to make Seward his home because he and his wife Marian “decided that Seward was the most suitable place for us.” It is Gene who has remained the closest to Concordia in the decades that have passed since the Faszholz brothers made their mark in their athletic ventures. Gene spent six years helping coach the Concordia baseball team as part of a career in education and coaching. At the time he graduated, Dave held the Concordia baseball single-season record for wins.
Dave’s Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame induction came in 2001 with Gene’s following 13 years later. Though Gene traveled many places and experienced many things, it’s clear that his time at Concordia impacted him as much as any other opportunity. In the middle of his baseball career, Gene spent two years as a radar repairman in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. It wasn’t until the “advanced age” of 26 that Gene found his way to Seward.
Because of Gene’s career in professional baseball, he was not eligible to play that sport at the collegiate level. So he opted for basketball, something he had not played competitively in about a decade. The following words were transcribed from Gene’s Hall of Fame speech.
“It became a test for me. Coach (Luther) Schwich did an outstanding job in getting us to play together as a team when you consider he had one returning letterman and the other players were from Indiana, Texas and California. They were the ones that ended up making the squad. The team started out slowly but soon began to gel and ended up winning the conference. It seemed each player had a role. My role was that of being the playmaker, the coordinator on the floor and the one running the offense. During the session I got the nickname of ‘Dad.’ Why should that surprise you? Most of the players were younger and were underclassmen. I was old and my hairline was already receding … It was a wonderful experience for me.”
Another Hall of Fame came calling for Gene. He was inducted by the Nebraska Baseball Hall of Fame this past February. During his eight seasons of minor league baseball, Gene batted .307. As Gene stated, he graduated from Concordia High School (Calif.) on a Friday and had already signed a professional contract that Sunday. He was rewarded with a paycheck of $200 per month. At the age of 17, Gene played in his first pro baseball game. As he put it, “My boyhood dream was being fulfilled.” During the 1949 season, Gene played alongside his brother Jack with the Cardinals’ Class A team in Columbus, Ga. Gene played in all 154 games of that campaign.
Jack (who died in 2017) had the distinction of, at various times in his career, striking out the likes of baseball greats Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Mantle. (The youngest brother Tom played pick-up basketball against Bill Russell). Dave was the first of the brothers to make his way to Seward. Dave excelled in both baseball, basketball and football during his time as a Bulldog. Sadly, Dave died in 2014. In memoriam, Gene and his wife Marian wrote, “Dave’s large physique and solid personality and great humor taught all the children to be in awe of him.”
It’s appropriate to be in awe of the entire Faszholz family, which made proper use of its God-given gifts. As the Oakland Tribune described it, “If this story appeared in our April 1 editions, you wouldn’t believe it.” Concordia of Nebraska was fortunate to have two of the “Fab Faszholz Five” apply those gifts within its own campus community. When the baseball career faded, Gene realized that “the Lord was calling me to serve others instead of achieving statistics for a team or myself.”
Before ending his 2014 Hall of Fame address, Gene gave thanks in stating: “In all the different locations, in all our travels, including in the baseball, Army and teaching career, I have seen the hand of the Lord in each one of these vocations. I have truly been blessed in my service to the Lord. I thank and praise him for all my blessings.”