Anaheim High Hall of Famer Howard Eugene “Gene” Menges (pronounced Meng-guess) died June 6 in San Jose at age 90 due to natural causes according to his son, Gregg Menges.
June 6 would be a significant date in his life. He graduated from Anaheim High that day in 1944, which was D-Day for the United States in Normandy, France.
He and many of his classmates enlisted in the Armed Forces on June 6. Menges joined the Navy and was shipped to the South Pacific. He was a quartermaster third class when he was discharged in 1946.
A Class of 1944 graduate, Menges was one of the most outstanding athletes ever to come out of Anaheim High Schoo. He went on to an accomplished career as a head coach of the San Jose State University baseball team. From 1970 to 1986, Menges became the Spartans’ all-time winningest coach (467-432-4) and was twice named Western Athletic Conference coach of the year. His number 22 is the only number ever retired by San Jose State baseball.
At Anaheim High, Gene was voted CIF Player of the Year in baseball 1944, and was named the most valuable player in varsity baseball, basketball and football as a senior.
For Gene, playing sports came as natural as breathing. It didn’t matter what type of ball was in play, Gene caught it, hit it and threw it with a level of expertise few people reach in a single sport. Later in life, golf became his game and he excelled in this sport as well.
Born in 1926 to Mickey and Florence Menges, Gene said his father played catch with him as often as his job in the oil fields allowed. As soon as he was old enough, Gene began playing on city baseball teams at Pearson Park.
A product of Anaheim schools, Gene attended Horace Mann Elementary and Fremont Junior High before attending Anaheim. His younger siblings Florence and Garth were also students at these schools. To read more about his athletic career, click on this link.