Nov. 7, 2012
The "Eagles in the Pros" series highlights former Boston College baseball players who have been successful in careers outside of baseball. The first in the series features Frank Faggiano, who played for the Eagles from 1960-62, making two trips to the College World Series. He was inducted in the BC Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 1993. He currently owns Faggiano Consulting, which offers an extensive career coaching process for recent college graduates.
Q: How did playing baseball at BC help you in your professional career?
A: Baseball is not an easy game to win. It requires ferocious competiveness, dedication, discipline and a real desire to excel and be the best. Also, it requires the ability to always be a team player. I was lucky to play for Eddie Pellagrini and he stressed one other virtue aside from the will to win, and that was as a BC athlete, each of us had a responsibility to make it better for the next guy. Take care of the person less fortunate than you. All these virtues help all good athletes excel in their lives after baseball.
Q: What is one of your favorite memories playing at BC?
A: In 1961, we were playing in our second consecutive College World Series against the heavily-favored University of Southern California in the semifinals. Our pitched was a fellow by the name of Bob Niemiec from Chicopee, Mass., who was a very tough-minded, cocky, right-handed knuckleball pitcher. Basically, when he started against USC, he was taunting them by telling them which pitch he was going to throw. He was a great knuckleball pitcher, so he'd show them the knuckleball, throw it and they couldn't hit it. They were completely baffled. We were leading by two runs in the bottom of the seventh when one of the Southern Cal batters hit a slow ground ball past the mound and Bob lunged over to get the ball. He hurt his back and had to be taken out the game. Unfortunately, they tied the game in the eighth inning and went on to win it in the 10th. They were the College World Series champs because they won the next game.
Q: What advice would you give current BC student-athletes about their future careers?
A:Today, nobody makes the BC baseball team unless they have a shot at playing in the Majors. Fall your passion; the odds may be daunting but give it all you have. Playing baseball at BC, your academics and the people you meet will prepare you for any career, so be confident.
Q: What life lessons stuck with you from your BC days that have helped shape you in your life and career?
A:The biggest lesson was that you get out of BC what you put into it. Athletics count and baseball counts, but what counts most is to explore the spiritual side of your development. This can be the biggest takeaway and life lesson from the BC experience. I met my wife at a Mass at St. Mary's Chapel when I was a sophomore and now we have three children and nine grandchildren. We've been blessed.
Q: You went to two College World Series with the Eagles in 1960 and 1961. What were those experiences like?
A: We had a reunion of the 1960-61 teams about three or four years ago. The thing about it is, I can remember Pellagrini saying to us before the second World Series, "Boys, you'll never forget this in your life. It will be one of the biggest highlights of your life." He knew because he played in the 1948 World Series with the Red Sox and like most athletes, those are such memorable events. They are something you never forget and they are something you are always talking about. Your teammates become close friends for life. That was a pretty thrilling experience. In our minds, it was a miracle. There wasn't one scholarship guys on those teams, in the two years we went. We didn't have them in those days. These guys just came together at a point in time with a great coach and did what no other BC team had done.
I wish everybody had the opportunity to do that and I think that Coach Gambino's motto from day one- which made us all very proud - is he wants to go back to the College World Series. His guys know that.
Q: You and Greg Gailius founded Baseball Night to raise money for the baseball program. Can you talk about how the idea came about?
A: It was late in the 80s and Coach Pellagrini was looking to do something, so Greg and I started it. There were four or five people besides us who really got it going, including Greg Stewart. My motivation around it was basically the coach was winding down his own career and we thought this would be a terrific opportunity to pull the organization together of baseball players and have some sort of activity between us. When you had a personality like Pellagrini, a former major leaguer and a terrific person and funny storyteller, it didn't take long for it to form.
In the early years, we did pretty much the same thing: we got terrific speakers - a lot of them were major league players who he knew or who were part of MLB family. I was the first president and Greg Gailius was the second and right now, Tom Casey is the president.
I think bottom line it's a great rally point for people who have played in the game and who have played at BC. We tried to make it a big connection for baseball players. Now there are so many of these guys who go into the minor leagues it's become bigger and I know [current head coach] Mike [Gambino] works hard to bring it together because he is from the same school of thought in terms of team play and being together. The older guys who are in the area are very proud to be part of it. It's always been a very big occasion for us, the players, the team and each guy who has taken over the team after Pellagrini has made it a big deal.