History-making World Series for Aussie mates

Kingsley Collins

21 October 2018

 

Current American League champion Boston Red Sox and National League winner Los Angeles Dodgers have not met in a World Series for 102 years – since the Fall Classic of 1916 – and these two powerful clubs are poised to stage an almighty contest in front of capacity crowds of 40,000 at Fenway Park and over 55,000 at Dodger Stadium during the next week to ten days.

 

Among the throng of baseball aficionados at either stadium – seated separately, presumably in more elegant areas – will be two of Australia’s finest ever baseball people, both of whom have a lengthy and distinguished record of engagement with Major League baseball clubs.

 

Having signed countless Australian players to professional contracts over a quarter of a century, Jon Deeble these days heads the Dodgers’ Pacific Rim scouting operations after fifteen years with Boston Red Sox – spanning a period of enormous club success that included three World Series titles. Replacing Deeble with Boston in early 2016, former Alumni Chairman Brett Ward spent well over two decades as international scout for Baltimore Orioles – along the way also signing a legion of Australian and Asian players to Minor League contracts.

 

While Deeble and Ward will be willing on their respective ball clubs when the World Series starts at Fenway Park on Wednesday morning (AEDST), they will surely be acutely aware that they have made their own history as Australians who have forged a career in world baseball.

 

Both men have signed players who have progressed to Major League level, although none of their protégés will be suiting up for either organisation in this historic best of seven series.


“No, I haven’t signed any of the current guys for Boston,” Brett Ward told Australia Alumni from Los Angeles this morning, “but if Tze-wei Lin makes Boston’s roster then Deebs has a definite connection after signing him six years ago.”

 

“I haven’t – just yet - had an impact on the Boston ML roster since joining the club.”

 

One expects that he soon will.

 

Close friends for forty years and business partners in scouting technology, Deeble and Ward were both born and raised in Victoria before relocating to Queensland. They were former teammates on Victorian and Australian national teams and with Melbourne Monarchs in the original Australian Baseball League – both building magnificent careers in domestic and international baseball.

 

Both have been inducted into the Baseball Australia Hall of Fame for their outstanding service.

 

While they will have no control over what happens onfield during the 2018 World Series, Jon Deeble and Brett Ward have joined previous pairs of Australian baseball people to be directly involved with clubs competing against each other in the World Series, the pinnacle of professional baseball. And they are certainly the first Baseball Australia Hall-of-Famers to be in this position.

 

For this particularly auspicious baseball occasion, Deeble and Ward will be rivals – for the very first time since they played such a dominant role in Victorian baseball through the eighties and early nineties, when the former honed his craft with the Preston club and Ward spent quality time with both Coburg and Sunshine.

 

A hell of a ride, over many years, from the ballparks of suburban Melbourne to now be facing off against each other in the home of baseball - as their respective professional organisations strive to achieve the ultimate accolade.

 

“I hadn’t thought of it that way, as a rivalry between mates,” Ward said, “but you can bet that we are both pretty excited about being here, and about barracking for our clubs in the World Series.”

 

“I’ll be in Boston tonight for the World Series Gala and then to watch Games One and Two with part-time scout Steve Fish. Deebs will be in LA for the next three games, so we will definitely catch up then.”

 

“It should be a great series.”