Dan DeVitis had it all figured out.
The Canonsburg native would take this job offer in La Plata, Md., coach baseball for a couple of seasons, then try to find a job closer to his hometown.
Instead, he stayed for 32 years.
In the process, DeVitis coached the La Plata High School baseball team to four trips to the state finals, a state championship in 2008 and to 342 victories.
A couple weeks ago, DeVitis got a call from an official from the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies were held over the weekend at the Camden Yards warehouse, and DeVitis was one of three honored.
“I didn’t even think about it after I retired,” said the 63-year-old DeVitis. “After my 30th year coaching, I got a service award (from the MSABC), and I was honored by that. This is a great way to end my career.”
La Plata, a Class AAA school with about 1,300 enrollment, won the state title in 2008 and finished second in 1986, 2002 and 2011, DeVitis’ last season as head coach. He finished with a 342-151 record in 32 seasons.
“It was an OK program before I got there,” said DeVitis. “But they had never won a state title. It’s a very rural area on the southern tip of Maryland. As time went on, it was built up, and we got a lot more kids living in the area.”
DeVitis graduated from Canon-McMillan in 1968 and California University in 1972. He spent two years working at McGraw Edison before teaching at Canon-McMillan from 1974-79. He was an assistant baseball coach in his first year at Canon-McMillan but had to give it up while finishing his Masters degree at Duquesne University. DeVitis did coach in the Canonsburg Colt League for three summers.
“I tried to get a counseling job in the area, but I couldn’t,” he said. “I used an employment service for educators to find me one and they found two, one of them at La Plata.”
La Plata won the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference championship seven times and was regional champions eight times. DeVitis had two of his players signed by major league teams: Daryl Thompson, a 2002 graduate who was drafted by the Montreal Expos and pitches for the Cincinnati Reds; and Mike Boyden, a 2008 graduate who pitches in the Washington Nationals organization.
DeVitis’ two sons also excelled at baseball. Dexter DeVitis made all-state and was a four-time all-conference selection. He played outfield on Team Maryland that played in an all-star game against Auburn-Montgomery (Ala.) University. Derek DeVitis was an all-conference first baseman.
“When I first went there, I had the desire to come back,” said DeVitis. “But I was treated so well there, and I just fell in love with the place. I never thought I’d stay there that long.”