Gary DeHaven's journey to the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame began in the 1960s when he was a Little Leaguer in Warren.
"I have great memories of growing up in Huntington County," says DeHaven, who was inducted to the hall with four others in a ceremony on Jan. 24. "I always enjoyed living there. It's a great community. They've always loved their sports and their Little League and Pony League programs are probably (some) of the best in the state."
A coach for 42 years, DeHaven made a name for himself as the skipper of the Benton Central High School baseball team in Oxford. Over the course of 26 seasons, DeHaven guided the Bison to 15 sectional titles, one regional crown and 12 conference championships. He compiled a 601-429 record while being named the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association (IHSBCA) District Coach of the Year four times and conference Coach of the Year nine times.
DeHaven retired after the 2012 season.
"It was a nice surprise. It was unexpected," says DeHaven of making the hall, which is voted on by IHSBCA member coaches. "The people that are in it are people who really love baseball and they're very similar to me as far as they like working with young men, they enjoy that part of it.
"To be selected by your peers, I think, is really special."
As a young man himself, he spent his playing days at Jefferson High School, in Lafayette, before transferring to Huntington High School and playing for his hometown squad during his senior year in 1966.
DeHaven then played collegiately at Taylor University for four years, graduating in 1970.
His coaching career began shortly after that. One of his first stops was Huntington North, where he coached from 1976 to 1979.
"For four years I was the freshman coach and I really loved that," DeHaven says. "Had some really great kids and many of them went on to play for Don Sherman at Huntington."
He proceeded to coach at Hamilton High School, in Hamilton, for four seasons, then at Kankakee Valley High School, in Wheatfield, for seven years before accepting the Benton Central job in 1987.
"I was always a pretty competitive person, so I enjoyed that part of it," says DeHaven of coaching. "But I also really enjoyed working with young men, just seeing how much they would grow from the time they were freshmen."
Ultimately, he considers the lasting bonds he formed with players to be his greatest coaching accomplishment.
"Hearing back from people that you've worked with and you kind of develop that relationship and even a friendship with them, it really means a lot," he says.