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Deshaies enjoys career as Chicago Cubs TV analyst


CHICAGO - Jim “Ace” Deshaies is living the high life in Chicago.

You can’t blame the former major league left-handed pitcher who has moved up in the world of broadcasting.

The Massena native and Le Moyne College Hall of Famer is in his second season as the Chicago Cubs’ analyst for WGN-TV and Comcast Chicago, who share the team’s broadcasting rights.

The Cubs, who have struggled mightily on the field for the past four seasons, play their home games at venerable Wrigley Field, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in late April.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Deshaies, who pitched 12 seasons in the majors, compiling an 84-95 record with a career earned-run average of 4.14 spread over six clubs, mostly notably with the Houston Astros. Deshaies was previously a TV analyst with the Astros before the Cubs came calling.

“It was flattering because they approached me about the job,” said Deshaies, who replaced Bob Brenly in the booth. “The family was living in Houston and now we are living in a high-rise near the ballpark. Of course, you would like to see the team have more success on the field, but it has been a great experience for me. First working with (play-by-man) Bill Brown in Houston and now Len Kasper in Chicago. He’s rock solid. I have been fortunate working with great individuals.”

Deshaies cited growing up in northern New York was a blessing while pursuing a baseball career.

“Because of the winter weather, I wasn’t out there playing baseball 12 months out of a year,” he said. “I think my arm was able to last a little longer.”

Deshaies was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos before graduation from Massena High School in 1978, but elected not to sign. The 6-foot-4 hurler, whose specialty pitches were a solid fastball mixed with a slider and change-up, starred at Le Moyne. He was later drafted and signed by the New York Yankees in 1982.

Deshaies was traded for Joe Nierko in 1985 to the Astros, for whom Deshaies had his greatest success. From 1986-89, he went 49-35, helping the Astros reach the 1986 National League Championship Series against the New York Mets.

Because of Houston’s excellent starting staff of Mike Scott, Nolan Ryan and Bob Knepper, Deshaies learned the fine art of pitching.

“It didn’t hurt my career being along those guys for the ride,” said Deshaies, who once struck out the eight Los Angeles Dodgers to start a game that still stands as an MLB record. “You learn a lot of stuff through osmosis with them.”

Later, Deshaies pitched for San Diego, Minnesota, San Francisco and Philadelphia before retiring in 1995.

“Being a starting pitcher, I had time off between starts and would do some playful broadcasting in the dugout,” Deshaies said. “(Former Astros pitcher and manager) Larry Dierker suggested that I should apply for the Astros’ TV job when there was an opening and I got it. I spent 17 years and it was great.”

Kasper and Deshaies now form a smooth broadcasting team, displaying an easy-going style mixed with laughter between play-by-play action.

“You can’t be serious all the time and you can’t be super silly either,” Deshaies said. “Len and I try to provide a good broadcast with a lot of different elements to keep the game entertaining for the TV viewers.”

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