Athlete Hall of Fame: Peyton Williams


Photo by: Julia Merrit

John Kirkpatrick, Sports Editor


If you take a walk along the indoor track in the JHS gym, the words Hall of Fame in purple and gold stand out amongst the slate gray of the track and walls. The large glass display holds the records of Johnston’s greatest athletes. The words state champion, record holder, and all-state read across many of the plaques that memorialize the illustrious careers of these athletes.

One athlete, in particular, has climbed the sports ranks ladder from high school, and college, to now playing professionally. Peyton Williams ‘19, left a legacy of achievement behind at Johnston and has faced every challenge that has been thrown his way.

“I started playing baseball when I was about five or six years old, and I had to play with older kids because there wasn’t a league for my age,” Williams said.

Williams never let the challenge of facing older kids intimidate him. If Williams had stopped there, he might have never become the competitor that he is today. 

During Williams’ sophomore season, he helped the Johnston baseball team win the 2017 class 4A state championship. That team won 41 games with Williams acting as a major contributor to their success. Williams credits the state championship as one of the high points of his career.

“High points include winning the state championship, signing at Iowa, and getting drafted,” Williams exclaimed.

While playing for Johnston, Williams racked up numerous individual and team accomplishments. As a senior at Johnston, Williams was named Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year and Iowa Prep Baseball Report Player of the Year. Williams became only the sixth player in 4A history to get 200 career hits. He also holds single-season records at Johnston for home runs, doubles, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Williams holds career school records in at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, home runs, and RBIs.

On top of his laundry list of achievements, he also found time to be a multi-sport athlete. He split his time playing football and basketball alongside baseball.

“I played football and basketball because they helped at developing skills that baseball doesn’t develop as much. I also knew that I wasn’t going to play them after high school, so I wanted to get as much time out of them as I could,” Williams said.

Williams never considered playing football and basketball after high school, there was a time though, when he didn’t consider the possibility of playing baseball at the collegiate level. It wasn’t until after his freshman season that the thought of playing D1 could become a reality. 

“…After my freshman season, I was invited to play in a showcase that was meant for guys that are going to play college. I think that was when I knew I could play [baseball] after high school.” Williams said.

After Williams graduated from Johnston, he played D1 baseball for the University of Iowa. When asked why Williams chose to play for the Hawkeyes it came down to the dream every athlete has of playing for their favorite team. 

“I chose Iowa because I was an Iowa fan my whole life and I would have been going there if I didn’t play baseball.”

Williams spent three productive seasons at Iowa. During his time there he was named a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2022, he became the first Iowa baseball player to hit for the cycle since 2018, totaled 21 home runs and 84 RBI for his career at Iowa, and finished his career with a .317 batting average. 

After his third season at Iowa, Williams was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the seventh round of the 2022 Major League Baseball Draft. He currently plays for the Dunedin Blue Jays, the Single-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. 

“As of now, I am in Florida for early camp working out before spring training.”

Currently Williams is preparing in Florida for spring training. He has said he often sees similarities between the practices he had at Johnston and the ones he takes part in now.

“I would say these practices are close to what [Coach] Barta had me doing in high school.” 

Even though Williams has moved to the new challenges that the Minor Leagues bring, he still looks back on his time spent at Johnston as the best place for his baseball skills and career to grow.

“The coaches gave me a chance as a freshman and they are the closest thing to a college program. It also had the teammates and coaches to push me to my very best.”

Williams cites his biggest inspiration as his family, friends, coaches, and teammates who he says believed in him and were always looking to see the best in him.

“They pushed me to where I am and they believe in me more than I sometimes do.”

Alongside his family and friends, Williams credits Coach Barta as another person he’s drawn inspiration from. And Williams attributes the successes he’s had to the teaching he received from Coach Barta.

“Coach Barta is who started my transformation from a scrawny freshman to the power hitter I am today. He made me practice harder than I ever had and showed what it truly meant to practice harder than you play,” Williams said.

Although Williams has gone farther than most in their athletic careers, he says he still experiences doubt, just like every athlete. However, Williams hasn’t let doubts about himself stop him from reaching the next level.

“…You just have to understand that you are in the position you are in [today] because someone believed in you and wanted you there.” 

Whatever the future holds for Williams, he’s ready for the challenges that come along with it. The doubts he may have, the injuries he may face, or any other hurdles that life throws his way, Williams won’t let them stop him from achieving his dream of playing Major League Baseball.