Late Bomber remembered for smile, attitude

Herald File Photo
The Dubois County Bombers' Devyn Newberry was greeted by his teammates in the dugout during a Bombers game against the Fulton Railroaders at League Stadium in Huntingburg on July 1, 2015.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

Tributes are flowing in for former Dubois County Bomber baseball player Devyn Newberry, 27, who was taken off life support Sunday at a hospital in Tallahassee, Florida.

Newberry helped propel the Bombers to the 2015 Ohio Valley League championship. The team went 26-14 with a regular-season championship. Newberry scored the winning runs in both of the latter two games of a three-game series against the Madisonville Minors to give the Bombers their first-ever Ohio Valley League title. He played for Georgia Southwestern University in Americus, Georgia. Newberry was a physical education teacher and was going to be the new head baseball coach at Baconton Community Charter School in Baconton, Georgia.

He was involved in a car wreck Wednesday at state routes 202 and 111 near Hartsfield, Georgia, according the website of WALB News 10 in Georgia. The article also said Newberry did not yield the right of way at the intersection before he went in front of another truck that was headed east on State Route 111, according to troopers.

Multiple sources reported Newberry was kept on life support to harvest his organs for donation.

“Devyn, being from Georgia, was the Southern gentleman-type — ‘Yes, sir; yes, ma’am’,” former Bombers teammate Nick Gobert said. “The thing I remember most about Devyn was just showing up to the ballpark with a smile on his face every day. He was always happy to be there.”

Gobert said Newberry would remind the team it was important to enjoy themselves, regardless if they went 0 for 2 or 2 for 2. He’ll miss how Newberry made the others feel to enjoy the moment, to go to the ballpark and love what they’re doing and play with a passion.

Herald File Photo
Dubois County Bombers' Nick Gobert embraced Devyn Newberry after winning Game 3 of the Ohio Valley League championship series against the Madisonville Miners at League Stadium in Huntingburg on July 31, 2015.

“He brought that contagious smile and attitude that we all kind of fed off of,” Gobert said.

Gobert stayed in touch with Newberry on social media after the two went their separate ways. He’s now the pitching coach for Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Iowa. Gobert could only go back to the smile Newberry had when he heard the news about his former teammate.

“I’m doing this as a career right now, just coaching in baseball, and it kinda made me sit back and realize that, No. 1, life’s too short to get caught up in worrying about wins and losses, or hit or no hit or strikeout or walk, whatever,” he said. “You just got to take it day by day, and I think the thing I’m going to miss the most about him was just how he went about that.”

Newberry’s walk-up music with the Bombers was “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles. He batted .315 during the championship season. Newberry’s regular-season numbers consisted of a .289 batting average and 16 RBI, while scoring 23 runs.

Georgia Southwestern athletic director Mike Leeder described Newberry as a first-class young man who was soft-spoken and a wonderful teammate. He will most miss the way Newberry represented not just the athletic department, but the university, in general.

Leeder called him a great ambassador for all the university stood for. He said Georgia Southwestern wants its student-athletes to be good in the classroom, in the community and on the field. Leeder said Newberry embodied all three of those traits.

“It’s a tragedy when somebody that has such a bright future ahead is taken at such a young age,” Leeder said. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Baconton Community Charter School administrator Lynn Pinson said nobody at the school would say anything negative about him.

She loved that he could light up the room and make the world a better place. Pinson said the school was in a somber state on Monday. She said the faculty works so closely together that it’s like losing a family member. Pinson said students and the baseball team were struggling with the loss.

Pinson said Baconton needed something to cheer itself up, and people are encouraged to wear their favorite baseball gear to school today as a celebration of Newberry’s love of the sport. She said the students need that. Pinson added the baseball team has adopted a slogan in his honor: “Do it for Devyn.”

“The world needs more people like Devyn,” Pinson said. “He was an encourager. He was cheerful. He was a team player. He came to our little school and made himself right at home and became part of our family.”

Pinson talked about how serious it is to hire someone and trust them with children for eight or more hours a day. She learned that she could trust young people like Newberry to fulfill such a responsibility. Pinson added Newberry would’ve been a thoughtful coach for the Blazers, because he wanted a year to study under his predecessor, James “Bubber” Birdsong, before making suggestions or implementing his own ideas into the program.

“I think that’s wisdom beyond years for a coach his age,” she said. “He had some new ideas, and what I know about him is he had the respect of the players to be able to implement those new ideas and new ways of doing things.”

Birdsong coached the Blazers for 14 seasons. He played baseball at Georgia Southwestern, just like Newberry did. He said his son, Brett, got along with Newberry in their college classes together, and was very pleased to have the former Bomber come onto his staff. Birdong thought Newberry did an outstanding job on his staff last year.

“He was young,” Birdsong said. “He was energetic. The kids loved him — very knowledgable, for a young age, very knowledgable baseball guy, and, looking back on it now, I treasure the time that we did spend together talking baseball, picking my brain and I was picking his about playing days up there. I thought he was the perfect fit to replace me, as well, and now the whole thing is just unreal.”

Birdsong said Newberry showed every day how much he loved the sport, and that his enthusiasm carried over to the players. He thought the former Bomber would’ve been an “outstanding” coach. His heart breaks that his pupil didn’t get a chance to coach them. Birdsong said he, the players and Newberry were all looking forward to it.

Pinson wants Newberry’s parents, Greg and Donna, to know that the school won’t forget their son, and is looking for ways to put Devyn’s stamp out in a public way.

“Whatever I’m feeling during the day, I need to share encouragement more, because that’s what he did,” Pinson said. “If he was down, you didn’t know he was down, and that’s what’s made such a difference for people here. They just loved that. That just made me think a lot this weekend about being present in the moment and loving people while I’m with them.”

 




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com