Players Death Brings TJC Community Together - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Players Death Brings TJC Community Together

National champions for the first time in Tyler Junior College baseball history, last year's season ended on a high note for the TJC Apaches. 

But this Fall, the team was hit with an unexpected loss when TJC Pitcher, Payton Diers, died after a car accident.

"He was an awesome teammate, just one of the guys you would always want around," said TJC first baseman, Caden Crawford. 

Michael LaCourse, another TJC pitcher, remembers Payton as a very uplifting and very happy person.

19-year-old Payton Diers grew up in Jacksonville. He was an athlete and person Payton's coach said East Texans should be proud of.

"Payton is a guy, that I remember, as just a good competitor," said TJC baseball coach, Jon Groth.  "I was telling these guys that I don't think there was a time when I ever made a visit to the mound and he wanted to come off the game, and that's probably a good thing.  There were times when I had to take him out, but never wanted to."

After his accident, Payton went through five surgeries, using 70 units of blood.

The hospital also had to fly in more platelets in a hard-fought effort to keep him alive.

In response, people from all over East Texas showed up to give blood today in Payton's memory. 

"Me and my mom woke up this morning and got here as quick as we could," said Paxton Lindsey, a childhood friend of Payton's.

One of Payton's teammates, Kyle Harrison, said the out-pouring of support meant a lot. 

"It shows that people care.  They are here to help out the family, help the hospital, trying to help out what ever way they can," he said.

Through this tragedy Payton's teammates say they hope they can grow, just as the team did two years ago after losing another player to meningitis.

"My hope is that it's the glue that sticks us together," said Groth.  "These guys will never forget Payton Diers."

Visitation for Payton Diers will be Tuesday from 6-8pm at Autry Funeral Home in Jacksonville. His funeral is Wednesday at Jacksonville's Central Baptist Church.

East Texans will have the opportunity to help Payton's family offset some of their medical costs Tuesday.

There will be a blood drive in Payton's memory in Jacksonville at Stamps Restaurant at 402 E. Rusk Street, from 10am to 6pm. The Jacksonville Independent School District will host the blood drive. 

Payton played baseball at Jacksonville High School before joining the TJC Apaches.

 Molly Reuter, KLTV 7 News.


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