Veal steps down as Jones County baseball coach

jheeter@macon.comJune 13, 2014 

Jones_Baseball

GRANT BLANKENSHIP/THE TELEGRAPH.Macon, GA 04/18/11.Jones COunty coach Barry Veal in the dugout during his team's game against Northgate Friday evening. ...

GRANT BLANKENSHIP/THE TELEGRAPH — Grant Blankenship/The Telegraph

Longtime Jones County baseball head coach Barry Veal has stepped down from his post to become the full-time athletics director at the school.

Veal stepped down after 21 years as the Greyhounds’ head coach. He won more than 450 games.

“I’ll miss the locker room and the kids,” Veal said. “But I’m ready for a new challenge. I’m really excited about it.”

Jones County alum Jason Page will be recommended to the school board as Veal’s replacement. Page, who played for Veal at Jones County and later at Mercer, was an assistant at Jones County for nearly a decade.

Principal Chuck Gibson has served as the athletics director, with Veal and softball head coach Blake Lyons working as assistants. Veal will take over full responsibilities.

“Two or three years ago, I told Mr. Gibson I wanted to get into this,” Veal said. “Blake was great. He asked if I wanted to pursue this, and I said he did. He said go after it.”

Veal was a superstar athlete at FPD, earning all-state honors in basketball and baseball. He scored 1,979 points in basketball and had a single-game high of 52. He still holds the program records for single-game, single-season and career scoring as well as career assists. In baseball, he is second in career stolen bases and holds the program record with 18 strikeouts in a single game. Veal’s jersey is retired in basketball, and he was inducted into the Macon Sports Hall of Fame earlier this year.

Veal was recruited to play basketball at Georgia Tech, but he decided to play baseball and basketball at Mercer. He played in the Detroit Tigers’ organization. Veal’s father, Inman “Coot” Veal, also played baseball and basketball at Mercer and later played for the Tigers in a six-year career in the major leagues.

Veal said he first really thought about coaching while he was in college. After he was cut during spring training by Detroit, he received a call from John Milledge about an opening.

“By the grace of God, they hired me sight unseen,” Veal said.

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