By Nate Rohr
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
From the day he was born, Big 12 athletics has been a big part of the life of Nebraska first baseman Tyler Farst.
He is the son of Michael Farst, who lettered in football at Texas Tech in 1986, and the nephew of Karen Farst, who lettered in women’s basketball at Tech from 1986 to 1990. His older brother, Travis, was a four-year football letterwinner for Baylor from 2002 to 2006 and a two-year starter for the Bears at offensive tackle.
“I have always been surrounded by sports my entire life,” Tyler Farst said. “My brother and I would always play football in the front yard. My dad would play catch with us. We would always play games in the front yard and have a fun time being competitive.”
Tyler was shaped particularly by his battles against his older brother, Travis, as the two grew up in Cedar Park, Texas. Travis, who was listed at 6'-7", 333 pounds as a senior in 2006 at Baylor, presented unique challenges as he battled Tyler, who came into the season listed at 6'-0", 212 pounds.
“He’s always been about twice my size,” Tyler Farst said.. “He was bigger and stronger than me, so competing against him gave me a lot more agility. All his roughhousing with me taught me how to be quick on my feet and fight through adversity.”
To this day, Tyler remembers defeating Travis in a game of one-on-one football in the yard. Tyler was about eight-years-old, and Travis was about 10.
“I juked him and ran all the way down to the other side of the yard, which was a ways away, for the touchdown,” Tyler Farst said. “Right after, Mom called for dinner. He hadn’t scored, so I won. It was a great feeling because football was always his game and he always dominated.”
Those battles built a hunger to succeed in Tyler Farst.
“I think being so competitive at a young age help me be competitive now,” Farst said. “I’m always wanting better, always wanting more.”
That drive for excellence pushed Farst to honors as the top male athlete at Cedar Park High School in 2005, as he starred on district championship teams in both baseball and football. He evened gained honorable-mention all-state honors as a senior. Farst moved on to Grayson County College and redshirted his first season. In his second year at Grayson, Farst hit .222 with two home runs and four RBIs on a GCC squad that earned a 43-13 record and a Northern Texas Conference championship.
Farst caught the eye of the Nebraska coaching staff and came north to visit. Despite chilly weather, Farst still received a warm welcome.
“I came up here on a visit and the weather was cold, so I definitely didn’t come for the weather,” Farst said. “I met the coaches, and they were all nice. Then I saw the facilities. I met the team, and they were about the nicest guys you could meet. Nebraska was a better fit for me.”
As he considered coming to Nebraska, Tyler’s brother, Travis, again loomed large. This time, though, he was a supporter, not an opponent, for Tyler.
“He had played against Nebraska and he said that Nebraska had great fans,” Tyler Farst said. “He was super excited when I got the chance to come and visit and he was really happy when I committed to Nebraska.”
With that, Tyler Farst came north to be a Husker. His experience against imposing opponents proved important as he made the transition from junior-college to Big 12 baseball.
“The tempo of the game is just so much quicker in the Big 12 compared to junior-college ball,” Farst said. “It took me a while to catch to the pace. The pitching is 20 times better in the Big 12 than it is in junior college. The pitchers are pitching for outs and they spot up the ball well. It took me a while to get into the tempo, but over time, I figured it out.”
Farst sat for most of the first half of the season behind fellow Texan Craig Corriston at first base. In Nebraska’s first 41 games of the season, Farst hit just .179 in 29 at-bats. But after Corriston was injured and forced to undergo season-ending knee surgery, Farst heated up, hitting .333 (18-for-54) with two home runs and 12 RBI in Nebraska’s final 15 games, including a standout 4-for-10 showing with a homer and two RBI against No. 12 Missouri in mid-May.
“A lot of it was just that I didn’t want to let the team down,” Farst said. “Craig going down left a big hole in our lineup. It was a huge hole that I had to fill. I was just adjusting to the tempo, and it all worked out well.”
Farst hit .333 in the regional including a go-ahead home run against Eastern Illinois on May 30, and ended his first year at NU hitting .280 with two home runs and 15 RBI.
In 2009, a young pitching staff has limited Nebraska’s success on the field, as the Huskers are 17-20-1 entering Tuesday’s game at Creighton. Farst has done his part, as he’s second on the team with a .327 average with two home runs and 27 RBI, also good for second on the team. Though the year has been frustrating so far, Farst, experienced in fighting long odds from all those battles with his brother, believes Nebraska needs to continue pushing.
“We’re all still together as a team,” Farst said. “We need to be more competitive in the fights that we get into on the field. We’re still in the hunt for the Big 12 Tournament. We just need to come together more than we are right now. We want to get better every day.”
The Huskers finally showed progress on the field by beating Iowa, 8-5, on Tuesday, April 14 at Hawks Field in Lincoln, to snap a nine-game losing streak.
“It was definitely great to get the win,” Farst said. “All the wins are important for us. We were fighting the entire game. We felt that we had to win that game. We feel like we have to win every game.”
With a strong competitive edge honed by years of high-level athletic battles with his brother, Farst will try to drive the Huskers into the Big 12 Championships, continuing a legacy of athletic excellence from the Farst family.