From the Pages of Vine Line: Broadcaster Jim Deshaies
Say goodbye to Len and Bob and say hello to Len and JD. New Cubs television analyst Jim Deshaies will step into the Cubs broadcast booth for the first time this spring, filling the rather large shoes left behind by former analyst Bob Brenly. Deshaies pitched for six different teams during his 12-year major league career before moving into the Astros’ broadcast booth, where he spent 16 years behind the mic. Although his memories of Wrigley are not always fond (he had a career ERA of just under 7.00 at the Friendly Confines), he’s excited to move to a city he calls “baseball mad” and follow in the footsteps of greats like Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray. For the January issue of Vine Line, we talked to the analyst about his memories of Wrigley Field, leaving Houston and his broadcast style.
QUIET TIME When I first started, I was terrible. It was brutal. They just said, “Here, go talk.” And I was like, “What do I do?” They said, “Well, you know the game, talk about it.” I had no idea when to come in, when to shut up. It was torturous. Richie Ashburn gave me great advice. He said, “Kid, if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything.” You’re better off not saying something than just spewing nonsense.
CALLING A MASTERPIECE Kerry’s [20-strikeout] game was my second year in the booth. I remember it was grey and misty here. It had kind of a surreal feel. It was the most dominant performance, maybe ever—a one-hitter that could have been a no-hitter. That slider was breaking about three feet at about 90 miles per hour. It was so much fun to talk to the Astros hitters after that game.
BEST OF THE BEST I spent 16 years in the booth with the Astros, and, to a certain extent, I feel like I’m breaking up the band. There were a lot of good people I worked with down there. You don’t leave that situation easily. You leave it when you’ve got the best opportunity there is in the game for guys who do what I do. I’ve received a lot of messages from colleagues all around the league who work for other clubs, people I’ve worked with in the past, and, frankly, they’re all really, really jealous.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU Here’s my self-assessment. I feel like I’m an honest guy. I’m fair. If players make mistakes, I’ll point them out, but I’m hesitant to just bury guys. It’s important to have a critical eye and not gloss things over, and I think that’s the reputation I’ve earned in Houston. But I do realize it’s a very difficult game to play. I think some guys who do my job forget how hard this game is sometimes.
To read the complete interview with Jim Deshaies, pick up the January issue of Vine Line, featuring an interview with Theo Epstein, available now at select Jewel-Osco, Walgreens, Meijer, Barnes & Noble and other Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line today.