The son of former Purdue University pitcher Rex Gingerich, Weston Gingerich, will continue his academic and athletic careers in the fall as a Boilermaker, like his father before him nearly four decades later.
Growing up attending numerous sporting events at Purdue, the university became a special part of Weston’s life, he said. When he was recruited by the school earlier in his high school career, he knew it was where he would end up.
“My dad also played baseball there, and growing up we’d always go to all the games, basketball, football, went to baseball games,” Weston said. “That was always my dream school. If I could only choose one school to play at, it would be Purdue.”
Weston’s baseball career started at age 4 when he began playing T-ball in the Russiaville youth baseball league. He continued the sport throughout school, even while jumping from Western Primary School to Acacia Academy to Western Middle School to Guerin Catholic High School in Noblesville, Ind.
As an out- and center-fielder, Weston recalled a fond memory of his junior season when the team played on Purdue’s diamond, the place of his future home field.
“I had a really good game. I went three for three with two doubles and a bunt,” Weston said. “That was just a special moment because I got to play at Purdue, and that’s where I wanted to go at the time. I think I made an impact with the coaches on recruiting.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Weston’s final high school baseball season was canceled. Although he already committed to the Boilermakers as a junior, he said the lack of season “still hurts” with less preparation for collegiate training in the fall. However, this summer, he will play on a travel league baseball team, as well as play on a college summer league at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind.
Weston will study selling and sales management at Purdue in the fall.
Where roots began
Like Weston, Rex Gingerich began his baseball career in T-ball when he played for the YMCA organization with games held at Foster Park. In the 1970s, Rex played in the minor and older leagues at UCT. As a teenager, he continued on to play on the Kokomo Babe Ruth team before joining the Kokomo American Legion baseball team in 1982 and 1983, his junior and senior years of high school.
In 1982, the American Legion team won the state tournament and played in the American Legion World Series. The following year the team was a state runner-up. At the time, Kokomo High School and Haworth High School still were separated, so many of the great teams were on the summer league teams where the players were combined, according to Rex.
“During that time, Kokomo and Haworth, they were two separate schools. We both had good baseball teams, but the city was kind of split up. It was tough to make a run in a state tournament or anything like that. But then in the summer, with the Legion team then, we pretty much all played together and then had a few county kids on our Legion team. So, we always did well in the American Legion state tournament,” Rex said.
Rex was recruited by Purdue his junior season and “jumped” on the opportunity to play for the Boilermakers. Like his son, Rex did not seriously consider going anywhere else, as the school also always was his dream school.
While playing for Purdue from the spring of 1984 to the spring of 1987, Rex remembered the Big-Ten powerhouse in baseball at the time was the University of Michigan with a team consisting of Chris Sabo, Barry Larkin, and Hal Morris, who all later played on the 1990 World Series champion team, the Cincinnati Reds. Playing against those three players was “interesting,” Rex said.
Additionally, Rex played against Jim Abbott, also on the Wolverines’ team, the famous one-handed, left-handed pitcher.
Rex reminisced on a story while he was pitching during a game against Northwestern University.
“Joe Girardi, he played at Northwestern University. He was my age. He was a long-time coach of the New York Yankees, played for the Cubs. He hit a home run off me up at Northwestern that stuck in the scoreboard. The Cubs fans around town like to talk about that story a lot,” Rex said.
During Rex’s 1987 season, the Boilermakers won 37 games, a school record up until 2012, and were also runners-up in the Big-Ten that season, playing in the NCAA tournament. Rex pitched 215 innings before leaving Purdue.
When asked how he felt about Weston following in his footsteps, Rex described the feeling as “very special, exciting, and a dream come true.” He also was proud of Weston’s hard work and the effort he put in to achieve his goal.
“More importantly, a few years ago, he kind of fell in love with the sport and wanted to be really good. And to watch him work hard and practice and be determined, give everything he has to give to be as good as he can be, as a parent, that’s what you really want to see your children do. That’s probably more important to me than the fact that he got the opportunity to go to Purdue and play,” Rex said.
Today, Rex is the owner and dealer principal of McGonigal Buick Cadillac GMC and Button Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.