Well-known local coach dies at 83


John Stephens touched a lot of lives in his four decades as a coach, and some of those kids, now adults, will be mourning his passing.

Stephens died at his home in Morrow over the weekend at the age of 83.

Stephens was state youth baseball commissioner and served on the board of directors for the Forest Park Athletic Association until 1997 when Clayton County took over.

Because of his accomplishments, Forest Park named its youth field in his honor in 1986.

Stephens was instrumental in bringing the Pee Wee Reese World Series for 11 and 12-year-olds to Forest Park where it stayed for several decades. A regional tournament is still held there. He coached the Forest Park Phillies to a World Series title in 1977 and earlier coached a team to second place in 1973.

He and others also helped bring the Minor Willie Mays Baseball program for seven and eight-year-olds to the city.

A humble man and devoted husband for 56 years, Stephens gave the kids the credit for any success.

"I didn't win it, the kids won the series," he told one newspaper in 1988.

Stephens played baseball and football in high school in Florida and later decried the changes that had occurred in youth sports.

"There's too much emphasis winning and not enough emphasis on the fundamentals today," he told an interviewer during his coaching days.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Thomas L. Scroggs Parkway Garden Chapel in Forest Park with burial in Brooks City Cemetery.