Yesterday (March 20) an East Texas school dedicated their baseball field to U.S. Army Cpl. Donny G. Tidwell, who was killed in Vietnam fifty years ago.

New Diana High School baseball has renamed the field in honor of Tidwell who graduated from there, before he joined the Army. The Upshur County native served in the 3rd battalion, 22nd Infantry. He was killed in action in the early morning hours of April 12, 1968 during the Battle of Good Friday, 13 miles north of the Dau Tieng base camp in the province of Tay Ninh.

According to KLTV, "Cpl. Tidwell was a standout high school athlete for New Diana, and was drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 42nd round of the 1966 summer draft. The organization sent Tidwell to the Pioneer Baseball League in Utah, where he pitched for the Ogden Dodgers under Hall of Fame coach Tommy Lasorda. Tidwell pitched 101 strikeouts during several no-hitter games that season, records show."

Lasorda ws unable to attend the dedication, but released this statement to be read aloud at the ceremony:

“My first championship team was the 1966 Ogden Dodgers. I’ll always look at that roster and think of Donny Tidwell. Every player who starts out in pro ball has a dream of playing in the Majors. While several of his teammates eventually played in the Majors, Donny decided there was something bigger than baseball. His decision to enter the Army took courage as he set aside his dream of playing baseball to serve his country. The image of Donny eagerly taking the ball and pitching in a Dodger uniform during the summer of 1966 is something I’ve carried with me for more than 50 years. I am thankful the community of Diana, Texas continues to honor a true hero and role model.”

Tidwell’s name is etched onto panel 49E, line 37 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., with the names of 15 others who died alongside of him. He is buried at Maddox Cemetery in Diana.

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