Jack Faszholz Battled the 1953 Giants

Flash forward 47 years. Will you be able to recall every detail of today?

You might if you were facing the biggest challenge of your life.

I wrote to pitcher Jack Faszholz, asking me for the memory of his first strikeout.
Instead of a shrugged grunt of an answer, he recreated a near play-by-play
depiction of his first major league start. Back in 2000, Faszholz wrote:

My first recorded K: To tell you the truth, I can’t recall the details of that event. I do remember that it was in my first and only major league start, Cardinals against the New York Giants in St. Louis (April ’53).

I walked Davey Williams, the Giants’ 2B and leadoff man; then Giant SS Alvin Dark dribbed a ball down the 3rd base line for a base hit; Henry Thompson (3B) batted third, Whitey Lockman CF; Monte Irvin RF; Bobby Thomson LF, Tookie Gilbert 1B, Sal Yvars C and Dave Koslo P was the rest of the Giant lineup.

I recall that both Williams and Dark scored before I got through the first inning. I pitched through the Giants half of the fifth inning and we were leading at that time, 5-4.

Al Brazle relieved me. We eventually lost that game, 9-6. one thing I do remember about the strikeouts I got that game was that most of them were the result of off-speed (change-up) pitches.

Thanks again for your interest and your letter.

Jack Faszholz

How did the hurler fare in recounting that day? Go to the ever-faithful www.restrosheet.org for the complete account.

Faszholz came from an athletic family. This fun 2008 article documents his family’s other connections to pro sports.

1950s St. Louis Cardinal Jack Faszholz Traded Pitching For a Pulpit

John Faszholz typified the “gap” player still seen today. A star at the AAA level that gets little to no chance to succeed in the majors.

Faszholz’s window of opportunity slammed shut after just four games.

The modest moundsman is a member of the Rochester Red Wings Hall of Fame. With no bitterness about what might have been in the majors, Faszholz recalled his memories of a brief stay in St. Louis, along with the decision that brought him to a lasting, even more fulfilling career. In a generous 2000 reply, he wrote:

“Dear Mr. Owens,

Thanks so much for your letter which shows your obvious interest in the great game of baseball. I consider myself very fortunate to have been a part of the game for 12 seasons, and to have competed against, or been teammate of, so many great players.

In response to your questions:

1. Sportsman’s Park: A typical ‘old time’ ballpark where the fans were close to the field. The dimensions were irregular: 354 feet down the left field foul line; only 310 feet down the right field line; about 410-420 to dead center field. There was a wire fence from the right field pavilion) which meant that a hitter had to hit the ball to the pavilion roof (about 25 feet high) for a home run. Any home run into the left field bleachers was a pretty good poke.

2. My nickname ‘Preacher’ — During most of the years that I played, I spent the off-season in school at Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis. Since I went to school only one semester a year, it took me 10 years to complete my Seminary courses. Because of this off-season activity, writers and teammates started calling me ‘Preacher.’ After I retired from the game and after I finished my Seminary work, I was, in fact, ordained as a Lutheran minister (1958). My ministry was mainly in teaching and coaching in an education institution of our church body. I retired in 1990.”

Trolling the riches of Baseball Alamanac, I found this fascinating feature about the two lives of Jack Faszholz, written by Pat Doyle. Great photos, too.

Tomorrow: stand on the mound in St. Louis with Jack Faszholz as he relives his first and only start!

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