Jackson Weller did not need his name on the roster to be an important member of the University of New Mexico baseball family. While not officially on the team this season, he spent a lot of extra time supporting his teammates.
He even drove to Arizona to watch the Lobos open the 2019 campaign against the then-No.8 Oregon State. Front row, because he was not going to miss the opportunity to cheer on his friends.
“For someone who didn’t even have to be there for us, he was there more than even some of us were,” said sophomore outfielder Brayden Merritt. “That’s something I’m going to take away. You take a lot of things for granted in life, but he lived it to the fullest.”
Weller passed away on May 4 after being shot outside a club in the Nob Hill area in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was 23 years old.
The Texas native started his college career at Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. He transferred to New Mexico in 2018. An injury left him off the roster for a while but he was planning on officially wearing the cherry and silver jersey next season.
Happy to say @UNMLoboBaseball is where I’ll be continuing my career! Go Lobos! pic.twitter.com/IyYmE9MdKw
— Jackson Weller (@Big_Jack23) July 2, 2018
UNM held a press conference on Monday afternoon to talk about Weller and his impact on the Lobo baseball team. Those sharing information and answering questions were Merritt, Director of Athletics Eddie Nunez and head coach Ray Birmingham.
Birmingham couldn’t say much when he was asked to give a statement.
“Jackson Weller was one of the classiest kids I’ve ever coached. For the first time in 42 years, I’ve lost one of my players on my watch,” the coach said while taking off his glasses to wipe away a tear.
New Mexico was in the middle of hosting Air Force for a three-game series when the tragedy happened. The second and third game of the series were postponed after the news came out. The Falcons gave the Lobos a heart floral arrangement as a tribute, which was displayed with a jersey in the middle of the locker room.
— UNM Baseball (@UNMLoboBaseball) May 4, 2019
There was a private memorial on Sunday for the team and the Weller family. Half the players got up and spoke about their teammate and how much he meant to them. What was shared there was only meant for those close to Jackson Weller, but details of the funeral have been released to the public.
It will take place Monday, May 13 at 1 p.m. at the Good Shepard Catholic Church in Colleyville, Texas. The family requested that any donations made in his honor to be done through the Children’s Cancer Fund of New Mexico (available online at www.ccfnm.org).
There is no makeup date for the Air Force series at this time, but the next game for New Mexico is Friday at 6 p.m. against the UNLV Rebels.
Merritt said Weller was always unselfishly helping the team, and would want them to not give up on the season.
“I just know he would be like, ‘alright, you guys cancelled the game on Saturday, go play on Sunday.’ He would probably look down and want us to be playing,” Merritt said.