Bibb Augustus Falk is a collegiate and major league baseball player and a legendary University of Texas at Austin coach. Born on January 27, 1899, he discovered the game of baseball living nearby Riverside Park, visited it frequently, and soon worked as Senator’s batboy at the ballpark, while selling bags of peanuts at the bleachers between innings. Falk started harnessing his skills during high school. With his outstanding performance, UT’s head baseball coach William “Billy” Disch invited Falk to attend UT, which was only the start of his fruitful baseball journey. In this article, let’s know more about Bibb Falk and how he transitioned from being a renowned collegiate and MLB player to being a well-decorated college coach.
The Longhorn Baseball Player
After graduating from Stephen F. Austin High School in 1916, Bibb Falk accepted the scholarship enrolled in UT in 1917. Falk said he would never have gone to college if Disch never made the offer. Whilst Falk was a skilled football player, even being included in the All-Southwest Conference team in 1919 after playing only a few games in the season, he became more popular as a baseball player. He was an undefeated pitcher in UT but was more adept in hitting, batting over .400 average in his three-year stint. Thus, helping the Longhorns get three conference championships.
The MLB Player
Following his graduation in the summer of 1920, Chicago White Sox signed Falk, giving him a $3,500 contract. He reported to Sox during that summer without seeing action in any minor league game. Sox did offer him to play in the smaller leagues to have regular playtime, yet he declined and chose to remain in the “bigger field.” Falk stayed on the sidelines for a few months. However, before the end of the season, a gambling infraction resulted in eight Chicago players’ banishment. The rookie replaced Shoeless Joe Jackson, which sparked the start of his professional baseball career. Though he only played two games, he registered a batting average of .294, implying what he is yet to bring into the field.
Further enhancing his skills, Falk soon became one of the American League’ best hitters in the 1920s. He also earned the moniker “Jockey,” referring to his manner of remorselessly riding his opponents. He had a batting average of .285 in 1921, .307 in 1923, and .325 in 1924, the latter placing him third in the American League. His performance dipped in 1925, getting only a 301 batting average but he bounced back in 1926, which became his best year in professional after registering a .345 mark, and ranked first among the outfielders in terms of fielding percentage. In 1929, he moved to Cleveland Indian after a trade, but only served part-time duty until 1931. His last active match happened with the American Association’ Toledo Mud Hens where he suited as a player-manager in 1932. In the next two years, he served as a coach for the Indians and Boston Red Sox before returning to Austin in 1935.
The College Coach
Falk went back to the University of Texas in 1940 after Disch stepped down due to a heart ailment. In 1942, Falk enlisted as a private in the Army Air Force passing the helm to Blair Cherry. After the war effort, UT saw Falk’s comeback as a coach, guiding the team to win three consecutive conference titles. He stayed until 1967, and with his 25 years stay with UT, the team earned 2 National Championships, 15 SWC Championships, and 4 Co-Championships, making him one of the legendary coaches in collegiate baseball.
Proving his prowess, Falk was included in the Longhorn Hall of Honor (1962), College Baseball Hall of Fame (1968), and Texas Baseball Hall of Fame (1988). UT also honored Falk and his mentor, Disch, naming the college’s baseball stadium as the Disch-Falk Field. Falk died due to a heart ailment in June 1989 in Brackenridge Hospital in Austin.