John DeVore, 69, Hall of Fame baseball coach, DeKalb legend

According to his wife, when you met John DeVore, he could come across as a little crusty sometimes.

But that is how coaches are.

Ask the thousands of athletes he coached and sent to college, and they will tell you the crustiness quickly faded away as the coach and teacher emerged.

“His whole life was devoted to the kids, and it wasn’t just baseball. He just used baseball as the vehicle,” said DeVore’s wife, Fayron DeVore. “He used baseball lessons to teach life lessons, and he was concerned about his boys growing up and being successful in life.”

DeVore, one of DeKalb County’s winningest high school baseball coaches, died Saturday from complications of a stroke. He was 69. His funeral will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Northside Chapel, 12050 Crabapple Road in Roswell.

John Truman DeVore was born March 30, 1943 to Fred and Lala DeVore in Crabapple, Ga.

After graduating from high school he worked for a year before enrolling in West Georgia College, where he was on the baseball team from 1962 until 1965. A crafty right-handed pitcher, he was an All-American for the West Georgia Braves in 1964 and 1965.

When he was inducted into the UWG Hall of Fame in 1988, it was noted that in 1964 he “compiled a nation-leading 0.40 ERA and set school records for most consecutive wins (eight), most consecutive shutouts (three) and most shutouts in a season (six). Known not only for his arm, he led the Braves in hitting in 1963 with a .387 average.”

After college he signed with the New York Mets, but an injury cut his career short before he got out of Class A.

By 1966 he found himself teaching social studies and coaching high school baseball in DeKalb County.

He also got married, on March 19, 1966, to Fayron Savelle DeVore. They had one son, Dusty.

For the next 30 years he was a fixture in DeKalb – first as the baseball coach at Southwest DeKalb High School, then at Shamrock High School. At both schools he compiled a 377-232 record. When he retired in 1996, the baseball field at Shamrock High School was renamed the John DeVore Field.

“He truly devoted his life to baseball. He did not have any hobbies,” Fayron DeVore said. “He always told the kids when they weren’t having a good time, they needed to quit. He taught so many kids baseball and helped so many get in school. Some of whom played against him.”

One was a pitcher and first baseman at Clarkston High School – Dusty DeVore.

Instead of playing high school baseball for his father, Dusty DeVore against him for four years while he was at Clarkston and his father was at Shamrock. Dusty’s team never beat his father’s.

“And he would never say a word about it,” said Dusty DeVore, who won a baseball scholarship from Columbus State University.

But the coach could not set aside his role as father all the time. During one extra-inning game between Clarkston and Shamrock, Dusty DeVore came in to pitch in the bottom of the eighth in a tie game with two outs.

Dusty DeVore’s first pitch was hit like a rocket, off his shin.

“As the other team is celebrating, I am looking for my father, who was coaching third base,” Dusty DeVore remembers. “He makes a bee-line to the umpire and was yelling at him for not calling the game earlier, because it was getting dark and somebody could have gotten killed and hurt. And it was his son who got hurt.”

After he retired, DeVore continued to coach, providing private pitching lessons and serving as an instructor at the Georgia Tech Pitcher/Catcher Camp.

“He was a main instructor when it came to pitching at the camp,” said Georgia Tech head baseball coach Danny Hall. “He is one of the best pitching instructors I have ever been around. He could relate really well with the kids, because he knew how to talk to them and how to teach them.”

Along with his wife and son, DeVore is survived by one granddaughter, Taylor DeVore of Alpharetta; and three sisters, Juanita Matthews of Shreveport; Ann Austin of Alpharetta; and Sarah Rucker of Alpharetta.

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