Tom McDevitt Obituary, Funeral Notice – Tom “Skip” McDevitt, the former head coach of Eastern Illinois University’s baseball team, passed away recently at the age of 88. His death is a great loss to the EIU Panthers Athletic Family, and the entire community mourns his departure. McDevitt, who was born on December 25, 1934, in Effingham, Illinois, had a remarkable career as a player, coach, and scout in the world of baseball.
As a student at Eastern Illinois University in the 1950s, McDevitt excelled as a baseball player, earning All-IIAC honors twice as a second baseman in 1955 and 1956. In 1955, he led the team with an impressive .474 batting average. After his college days, McDevitt signed a professional baseball contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and played in their minor league system for several years.
In 1978, McDevitt took on the role of head baseball coach at Eastern Illinois University, a position he held for 11 seasons until 1988. During his tenure, he guided the team to 299 wins and achieved 11 consecutive winning seasons. McDevitt’s leadership led the Panthers to two NCAA Division II College World Series appearances, finishing fifth in the nation in 1978 and second in 1981. He was instrumental in transitioning the program to the NCAA Division I level, where the team won two regular season Mid-Continent Conference division championships and finished as runners-up in the Mid-Con post-season tournament for five consecutive seasons.
One of McDevitt’s notable achievements was the number of players from his team who went on to sign professional contracts. A total of 28 of his former players pursued careers in professional baseball, including two first-round MLB Draft selections and five players who reached the Major Leagues. After stepping down as head coach at EIU, McDevitt worked as a baseball scout for several major league teams, including the Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, and Cleveland Indians.
McDevitt’s dedication to the sport and his contribution to Eastern Illinois University did not go unnoticed. In 1994, he was rightfully inducted into the EIU Athletic Hall of Fame, recognizing his significant impact on the baseball program and the university as a whole.
Beyond his professional life, McDevitt was a proud graduate of Effingham High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University. He furthered his education by obtaining a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University. These accomplishments, along with his coaching legacy, made him a respected figure in both academia and athletics.
A funeral mass for Tom “Skip” McDevitt is scheduled to take place on July 22nd at Sacred Heart Church in Effingham, with the Reverend Father John Titus officiating. Following the service, he will be laid to rest at St. Anthony Cemetery in Effingham. The visitation for family, friends, and admirers will be held on July 21st at Bauer Funeral Home in Effingham from 4-7 pm.
In honor of McDevitt’s memory and his philanthropic spirit, the family has requested that instead of flowers, memorial donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. This gesture reflects his compassion and desire to support a cause that helps children facing serious illnesses.
Tom “Skip” McDevitt’s legacy will forever be remembered in the hearts of those whose lives he touched. His contributions to Eastern Illinois University’s baseball program, his dedication to the development of young athletes, and his commitment to the sport will continue to inspire future generations. The Eastern Illinois community will cherish his memory and honor his profound impact on the university and the game of baseball.