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Catching Up With ... former Oriole Mike Devereaux

devereaux1.jpg Each Tuesday in The Toy Department, veteran Baltimore Sun sportswriter Mike Klingaman tracks down a former local sports figure and lets you know what's happening in his/her life in a segment called, "Catching Up With ... " Let Klingaman know who you'd like him to find and click here to check out previous editions of "Catching Up With ... "

He hit the Orioles’ first-ever home run at Camden Yards in 1992, but that poke is long forgotten. What Baltimore fondly recalls of Mike Devereaux is his game-winning homer in the summer of 1989 during the Orioles’ improbable pennant run

By the All-Star break, those Birds seemed a team of destiny, a rag-tag bunch that could do no wrong. Devereaux proved that. On July 15, in a game fixed in the minds of Orioles’ fans, the rookie slammed a walk-off, two-run homer that curled around the left-field foul pole at Memorial Stadium and gave the home team an 11-9 comeback victory over California.

If ever a moment defined a season, that was it. Devereaux’s hit triggered celebrations among the 47,000 fans at Memorial Stadium and howls of protest from the Angels, who claimed the ball was foul. For days, TV showed replays of the homer. Fair or foul? Twenty years later, it’s still the question most often asked of Devereaux when he returns to Baltimore.

His answer? "Every time I check the record book, it says ‘fair,’" said Devereaux, 46, of Woodstock, Ga. "I hit it hard and I watched it as long as I could. I knew it was close."

How close? Devereaux laughed. "Check the foul pole," he said of the marker, since moved to Camden Yards. "The scuff mark is probably still on it."

The ’89 Orioles fell short of the playoffs, but Devereaux had earned his keep. For much of his seven years here, he owned center field, robbing hitters with crowd-pleasing catches. One night, he’d make an over-the-shoulder grab, circa Willie Mays. The next, he would leap over the fence to save a home run, then trot off the field nonchalantly.

devereaux2.jpg

"I was never one to showboat, to hold the ball in the air and scream, ‘I got it! I got it!’" Devereaux said.

He carried the Orioles in 1992 with a team-leading 24 homers and 107 RBI while batting .520 with the bases loaded. An All-Star, he placed seventh in balloting for American League MVP.

"It all came together that year," he said. "I batted second and with Cal (Ripken) hitting behind me, I got all of those good pitches."

His black bat was Devereaux’s trademark. Its color, he said, made his swing more difficult for rival outfielders to see.

Beaned by a pitch in 1994 – the ball cut his cheek nearly all the way through – he fell into a slump and lost favor with the club. A free agent, he signed with the Chicago White Sox but was dealt to Atlanta in time to help the Braves win the 1995 World Series. Clutch hits in the playoffs earned Devereaux the National League Championship Series MVP award. Re-signed by the Orioles, he played a subpar season, then moved on again and retired, grudgingly, two years later at age 35.

"I loved the game," he said. "I wish I could have been in it longer."

Divorced and the father of two, Devereaux lives near Atlanta and runs a private instructional baseball program for kids from 6 to 18. At 208 pounds, he’s close to his playing weight and shows no ill effects from a lifetime of crashing into outfield walls.

"I’m still in one piece. I’ve been blessed," he said.

He may live in Dixie and wear a Braves’ World Series ring, but Devereaux said he will never forget his Baltimore ties.

"The people were the greatest," he said. "They cheered me in the good times and booed me when they had to. Every time I come back there, the fans recall things that I don’t even remember."

At Camden Yards to sign autographs earlier this month, he took in a few Orioles games – against the Angels, no less – and was struck by the number of empty seats.

"I only played there when the place was sold out," Devereaux said. "It looks kind of
weird right now."

Comments

Good hitter,good glove,great speed.STILL-the worst baserunner in O's history-no instints on the bases-must hold record for being picked off.Also couldn't hit the cutoff man and had a subpar arm.
Supernice guy though.Made some great catches

Very refreshing to read about Devo. I'm glad that he's doing well.

In my opinion, Mike Devereaux was the prototype for players like Torii Hunter and Adam Jones. It would be great if the O's could bring him into the organization. He would definintely help to draw fans to our empty ballpark.

One of the best O's ever. Glad to hear he is doing well!

Wonderful story. I miss him very much. That beaning was severe. Yet, if I rememeber correctly, he was back in the lineup very quickly, even though he was still in a lot of pain. It proved to me that he was a real tough guy. As a player and person he was well grounded. While visiting some elementary age school children once, he asked them if they had any questions for him. One did: "Why is your nose so big," she asked. And he just laughed and laughed. He's the kind of guy the Orioles should still have in their system somewhere. I wonder if he realizes that Angelos' disasterous management "style" is the reason the stadium has been half empty for years? Probably does, but he's too nice to say.

Finding Mike Deveraux

www.youtube.com/watch?v=1isReshBt2E

Thanks for the story. Devo was always a favorite of mine from that ERA.

Dee-Vo!

Lost this post!

Very fond memories of Devo and the Birds from that era, what a fun team to watch. Thanks for the "catch up."

Been an oriole fan my whole life living here in Wyoming, When a Wyoming native played for the O's it was even better. See you all next week, my boys and I are making the trip for the last 2 games of the Indians series and the Monday game vs the Yanks. A 50th birthday present.

Devo wasn't the best baserunner, but Melvin Mora takes the prize as the worst base runner in O's history. He's pathetic on the bases.

Mike was one of the fans' all time favorites, like Ellie Hendricks. He would be a great outfield coach and mentor at any level of the system. I really appreciate this series having been a fan since 1964 and now living in the Chicago area.

He made what I think is the greatest catch in centerfield I have ever seen. A memorable leap fully outstretched in full sprint where he ended up half out of the stadium to save a game. The guy was a great player for several years.

Devo was one of my favorite O's growing up and I tried to emulate him while playing OF although I didn’t have half his speed. I remember he used the biggest bat on the team. It was 36oz and 35 inches I believe.

I was at that game,sitting next to the left field foul pole.I clearly saw the ball.........no joke.It was foul.Doug Rader was so mad I think he got ejected after the game was over.

He lives in Dixie , but remembers Baltimore . Hell Baltimore is in Dixie. Check the Mason / Dixon line.

Devo, Brady Anderson and Steve Finley was one of the greatest defensive outfields ever. One or more would make a sportscenter highlight play almost daily.

I vehemently disagree with ron in va (first comment above) on only one point. The worst two baserunners in Orioles history are Jack Cust & Pedro Swann - end of discussion! Devo was a good Oriole.

One of the best defensive players I've ever seen.

June 5, 1992. The catch out by the bullpen against the Blue Jays. The O's used it on their 1993 schedule. I still have that schedule.

June 5, 1992. O's vs. Blue Jays. He made a great catch at the bullpen wall. I remember thinking the bullpen door look like it was still open. The O's used that catch on the cover of their 1993 schedule.

Good for you, Wayne Koerwitz. Enjoy your visit. And if you can play third, bring your glove!

Mike Devereaux, an Oriole through and through...

We must repert D-E-V-O. Okay, let's go!

// June 5, 1992. O's vs. Blue Jays. He made a great catch at the bullpen wall. I remember thinking the bullpen door look like it was still open. The O's used that catch on the cover of their 1993 schedule. //


I was there. Still the greatest catch I've ever seen in person. Devo was my favorite player back in those days. I saw him when he was back at OPACY a couple weeks back, and he was still a heck of a nice guy. LONG LIVE DEVO!

Good ball player. Who did we trade to get Mike?

I was at the game when Mike hit that homer in April 1992. It was the first O's homer at Camden Yards & Ben McDonald was the winning pitcher! Seems like forever ago but I still have the 1993 schedule too with that famous catch.

We traded pitcher Mike Morgan for Deveraux.

i have every one of mike Devereaux's baseball cards...enough said! I loved him

The best athlete and a friend to all that I new in the fall of 81, Thanks for living the dream!

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