By Brian New

MABANK (CBSDFW.COM) – Had he never put on a firefighter’s uniform, Scott Tanksley would have still been a hero to in the small Texas towns of Kemp and Mabank in Kaufman County.

While responding to a crash Monday, the Dallas firefighter was knocked off a bridge by a driver who lost control.  Tanksley fell more than fifty feet onto I-20.  He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

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Tanksley, who was a star baseball player at Kemp High School, coached his son’s little league baseball team in nearby Mabank.

Fittingly, the team’s nickname is the Heroes.

“He’s the one that taught most of us how to pitch,” said nine-year-old Brandon Wallace.

And what better person to teach these young players how to pitch than Tanksley, who played minor league baseball in the Minnesota Twins organization before joining the Dallas Fire Department 14 years ago.

Randy Teague, who is also a coach on the Mabank Heroes team, said it has been hard explaining to his son and the team what happened to their coach.

“Sometimes you question why a good dude like him when there are a million people that aren’t him,” said Teague.  “To lose him it hurts.”

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Lifelong friend Steven Reedy said this baseball season won’t be the same without Tanksley.

“Scott will be deeply missed not only on field but off the field.  He was a hero in so many of our eyes to not only my generation but to the younger generation as well,” he said.

The Heroes will dedicate this season to their fallen coach.

Tanksley’s body was escorted by a Dallas fire truck to Mabank Tuesday evening.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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