Nearly 40 years ago Eric Pfaff ’81 graduated from Saint Ignatius as a stand-out baseball and football player. He is now a husband, a father to three sons and president of Allied Enterprises in Westlake – but he still recalls the “influencers” who were so important to him during high school: teammates and friends who led by example and teachers, administrators and coaches who inspired and directed him.
Eric’s friendships date back to St. Christopher parish school in Rocky River and expanded to include fellow athletes on the Saint Ignatius baseball, basketball, and football teams. Many of those friendships remain strong. Pfaff also has vivid memories of the school’s president at the time, Rev. Robert J. Welsh, S.J. ’54.
“Day to day, Fr. Welsh was a constant presence on campus, with his teachings and a way about him that everyone loved. He talked at our level and was tough on us when warranted and gave us a pat on the back when we deserved it. Fr. Styles was my Latin teacher and made sure we did things the right way. They both taught me what a Jesuit was all about, how to be a man for others, and prepared me for college and being in the working world and a father doing the right things.”
On the baseball diamond, Eric felt most at home. His father Joe had played baseball for the University of Notre Dame and taught him his first skills. Playing all four years at Saint Ignatius, Eric hit .373 his junior year followed by .418 his senior year and was named to the 1981 All-Ohio First Team. He led the Cats in home runs and slugging percentage and held a school record with seven home runs in a season.
In his junior year, Eric joined the football team and it quickly became his favorite sport. As a hard-hitting linebacker, he was named to 1st Team All Independent, Special Mention All Scholastic, and Honorable Mention All-Ohio in 1980.
“The intensity and camaraderie, with daily practices and workouts, you couldn’t get that anywhere else. And there’s never been a replacement for playing under the lights on a Saturday night,” says Eric. “Baseball was more relaxed, but both sports taught me commitment, hard work, and how to be a team player, to win and lose together.”
Eric went on to play baseball at Ohio State University as a four-year starter and senior year captain and played summers in the premier collegiate Cape Cod Baseball League. At graduation, he was tied for 1st in career RBI, 2nd in career home runs and 3rd in career at-bats. He remains in the OSU Top 25 in these categories.
“I arrived at OSU way ahead and I didn’t struggle academically. It goes back to the teachers and coaches at Saint Ignatius. They taught me what’s important and how to prioritize. That’s why my boys go there now.”
With his degree in Marketing and Business Administration, Eric and brother Mark ’85 run the company their father started. He has helped coach baseball at Saint Ignatius and continues to coach younger kids in summer league baseball, as well as football at St. Raphael.
“I still use the things I learned from Coach Kyle and Coach Antonelli. Sports are one tool of many that can help kids as they grow up. Sports help kids find a place to belong and build their confidence.”
Eric and his wife Cathy reside in Rocky River with sons Joe ’22, Jacob ’24 and Josh.