Fifth ring for Aussie Hall-of-Famer?
25 October 2017
While he is universally known in Australian baseball ranks as the National Head Coach and more recently Manager of Melbourne Aces in the Australian Baseball League, 55 year-old Jon Deeble has enjoyed a stellar career in United States professional baseball for over twenty-six years.
Now a Director with the iconic Los Angeles club after a lengthy stint with Boston Red Sox, Deeble is currently in the City of Angels supporting the Dodgers in their bid to secure a seventh World Series title – their first since 1988.
A former national playing representative at all levels, Deeble has the distinction of already possessing four World Series title rings for his work in professional baseball. The next several days just might deliver a fifth, although Deeble is under no illusions about how difficult it will be against a Houston Astros outfit gunning for its first World Series title.
Progressing from a stellar career in Australian baseball to become a minor league manager and pitching coach during the nineties, Jon Deeble held a management role with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins club when it won the World Series in 1997 - its first of two, both times as a wild card.
Moving to Boston Red Sox in 2002, Deeble spent fifteen seasons as Coordinator of Pacific Rim scouting for the Red Sox – during which time he signed many big names, notably including Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideke Okajima out of Japan.
“I have been lucky enough to receive four World Series rings for my work in professional baseball,” Deeble told Australian Baseball Alumni just hours before Game One of the 2017 World Series. “The Marlins in 1997, then the Red Sox in 2004, 2007 and 2013.”
“With the Dodgers will be my fifth, if we can win.”
It is an extraordinary record of success for a man from suburban Melbourne who took up baseball at the encouragement of his late father Don Deeble – a fellow Australian Baseball Hall of Famer who himself passed up an opportunity to play professional baseball in an earlier era.
While the Major League baseball clubs make their own decisions on distribution of World Series rings, there is a general recognition of the part played by leadership personnel at all levels of the organisation – not just by the playing and coaching group.
“All full time staff get rings,” Deeble said. “Scouts, front office people and Minor League coaches are usually all recognised for the part that they play in club success.”
“In 1997 (Marlins) and in 2004 (Red Sox) I was managing in the minor leagues as well as scouting, so those rings were really special to me,” he said. “That first one – in Florida – definitely meant a lot to me.”
“Breaking the curse was the big one,” he continued – in reference to the 2004 championship win by Boston Red Sox, which swept the Cardinals to end an 86-year World Series drought attributed by many to the Red Sox trading Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1918.
“The atmosphere in Boston was just amazing during and after that series – and it something I will never forget – but all those rings are special to me, for different reasons,” Deeble said.
A highly respected and well-credentialed Australian baseball person already immersed for quarter of a century in the maelstrom of United States professional sport, Jon Deeble is understandably proud of his record and is generous in his acknowledgment of the people who have helped him throughout his journey.
“For me the greatest satisfaction of it all is being an Australian in an American sport and being able to achieve such longevity,” he said. “If you don’t know what you are doing, then you don’t get to stay in pro ball for twenty-six years.”
“I owe so much of my career to outstanding baseball people. I think of people like John Boles – former Manager of the Marlins – as well as Gary Hughes and Orrin Freeman for giving me a chance back in the early nineties,” he said.
“John Henry owned the Marlins for a while. When he sold out and bought the Red Sox, only three staff went with him – and I was one of them.”
“I will always be thankful to him for that.”
“Theo Epstein and Craig Shipley were responsible for getting me to the big leagues in 2005,” Deeble said. “I have both of them to thank for that – for without them it would not have happened.”
While Deeble’s more recent move from Boston Red Sox to Los Angeles – as Director of Asia Pacific Scouting - marked the end of one era, it was certainly the start of a new beginning for this sporting lifer, who continues his remarkable input to Australian baseball back home and internationally.
“All credit to the Dodgers for head-hunting and offering me the director’s role in international scouting,” he said. “Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi, Galen Carr and Dave Finley are all guys who have put their faith in me and I am thankful for being given that opportunity.”
“Over the years I have had a lot of support from ownership through to office people and other support staff around professional clubs. To all of those people I will be forever grateful.”
Notwithstanding the phenomenal success and longevity that Jon Deeble has enjoyed in professional sport, Down Under remains his home and he emphasises that Australian baseball has delivered him some of his most enduring memories.
“All of those achievements in pro ball have been highlights, but right there with them – if not above – is the silver medal team at the Athens Olympics in 2004,” he said.
“That was just really special – with a special group of people.”
So, back to the present – and the immediate future.
Who is going to win this World Series showdown between two demonstrably worthy clubs that were both outstanding during the regular season, but who have markedly different histories in baseball?
“This is going to be a tough series,” Jon Deeble said, in classic understatement.
“Houston are a really good offensive team and they have great starting pitching, but our pitching quality and depth are very good. Our offence is on fire," he said.
“We’ll see. It should be a great series.”
Australian Baseball Alumni extends its appreciation to Jon Deeble for his assistance in the preparation of this story. We wish him well as Melbourne Aces Manager for the upcoming Australian Baseball League season.