Bearing a name so revered, yet so unique, at the ballpark or anywhere for that matter, Gehrig Eoff is well accustomed to being compared to Yankees Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig.
“People ask me what position I play and I tell them catcher or third base. They say, 'Well, Lou Gehrig was a first baseman,’’ said Eoff, a Nixa junior. “Everyone tells me that with the name Gehrig that at least I'm a baseball player, that it wouldn't make any sense if I was a basketball player or football player.
“I was at an Evangel basketball camp and one of the coaches started quizzing me about what I knew about Lou Gehrig,” he added. “This is when I was little. I said I didn't know too much about him. The next week or so, I would go home and do research about him and tell that coach stuff about Lou Gehrig.”
Google tells us about one in 800,000 people have the surname Gehrig. It’s safe to assume Lou Gehrig and his legacy had something to do with Eoff being named Gehrig.
"My Mom is the one that had my name picked out for the longest time,” Eoff said. “My uncle played baseball at Parkview and Crowder, so she grew up around the ballpark her entire life. We've always been a big baseball family. But we’re Cardinals fans, not Yankees fans. It's just the name my Mom likes.”
Eoff followed his uncle’s lead by beginning his prep career at Parkview. He transferred to Nixa last summer.
He knew only about a handful of Nixa students prior to becoming an Eagle.
“In terms of baseball players, (junior left fielder Rylan Michel) was the one I knew,” Eoff said. “I played summer ball the last couple of years with Rylan. We've gone to church in Nixa my entire life, so I also knew a handful of people from church that go to school at Nixa.
"The culture here is great,” he added. “The sense of family is great. I love everything about the school academically and athletically.”
Eoff has also quickly made a name for himself thanks to his game-winning RBI-double in the Eagles’ 5-4 nine-inning victory versus Greenbrier, Arkansas, on Monday.
“As a new guy, you always want to fit in, feel like you've got a role on the team and a purpose. Something like (a game-winning hit) usually helps,” coach Logan Hughes said.
"That hit made me feel like I belong,” said Eoff, who was 2-for-5 with two doubles. “It was a great night. I was thankful to be in the right spot at the right time and get that hit. It all worked out well.”
In Nixa’s first three games, he has started at third base, catcher and designated hitter.
“I came in with the mindset that I was going to provide a service to this team and do whatever I'm asked to do to the best of my ability and take advantage of every opportunity I'm given,” Eoff said.
“He can play anywhere on the field. He gives us a lot of options,” Hughes said. “He shows up every day to get better and cares about the team and his performance.”