Tom Bean senior honors memory of former Tomcat
TOM BEAN, Texas (KXII) - On December 22, 1991, Jason Popejoy passed away at just 16 years old.
”Sudden heart arrhythmia,” said Peggy Evans, Jason’s mother. “That’s the only thing they could find wrong with him. You know he just came in and I found him the next morning.”
Jason was a multi-sport athlete at Tom Bean High School.
”For many, many years we never touched the school ground at all because of what we had gone through,” said John Evans, Jason’s father.
In 2019, almost 30-years after Jason’s passing, Gage Moore, a freshman at Tom Bean, went to Peggy and John asking permission to wear number nine, the same number worn by Jason for baseball.
”They have a bunch of pictures on the wall of people who passed in high school that played sports,” said Gage Moore. “I saw the name Jason on one of them. I asked my dad about wearing number nine.”
”I said I’ll let you wear it, but we’re going to ask John and Peggy and if they give you permission, you can don the number nine,” said Gage’s dad Michael Moore.
Jason’s parents were moved by Gage’s request.
”It’d been 30 years, you know, and for this to come up, it was very touching,” said John.
Gage grew up hearing stories about Jason from his dad, who was one of Jason’s childhood friends.
”Man we were friends since we were 7, 8, 9 years old,” said Michael. “We played football together. We played basketball, we played baseball together.”
”He would always tell me about how he was a pitcher and always loved baseball, and how a lot of my personality is kind of like his,” Gage said.
”Ever since then, he’s been number nine for four years and they’ve been some of his biggest fans,” said Michael.
Peggy and John began attending baseball games for the first time since their son’s death.
”The first game they went to it was pouring rain and they just decided to show up and watch the whole game,” recalled Gage. “It really meant a lot to me since they stayed there for the whole time.”
Gage went on to ask Peggy and John to join him on his senior night, giving them a night they never had the chance to experience.
”We didn’t know him before this and we got to know him over the least four years and, incredible kid,” said Peggy. “Reminds us so much of our son, personality-wise.”
”It makes me feel proud to wear his number,” said Gage. “It gives me a lot of drive. It feels like I got to give it my all no matter what.”
Gage will be the last Tomcat to wear number nine. That number, Jason’s number, will be retired.
”Our son would’ve been thrilled,” Peggy said.
”He was Tomcats all the way,” said John. ”Just like Gage.”
”Just for them to know that not only is the memory of their son living on his friends but but also their children,” said Michael. “I couldn’t be more proud and I know Jason’s looking down smiling at us.”
Since Jason’s death, Peggy and John have been pushing for high school athletes to have electrocardiograms (EKG) done because that was the only way Jason’s condition would’ve been detected. An EKG looks for abnormalities in the heart’s electrical impulses.
“We’re hoping that all the coaches, schools in the area, in the state and the country would push to have EKG’s done on these kids,” Peggy said.
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