Thursday, July 24, 2008

Too Wild And Jovial

In the race for catching honors in the National League in 1882 Tom Deasley, then catching for Boston, tied Bennett of Detroit.

A great catcher and thrower was Deasley, so great indeed that Ted Sullivan brought him to St. Louis and here he really wound up his career.

Deasley was a fine receiver and thrower, but too wild and jovial a fellow to last long in league company. His life on the center of the baseball stage was brief.
-The National Game

The description of Pat Deasley as "too wild and jovial a fellow" wins the award for best euphemism of the week. Deasley was an alcoholic whose escapades were part of the Browns' "team discipline" problem in 1884.

On a trip to Indianapolis that year, several members of the team were, as the Post-Dispatch said at the time, "(pouring) liquor down their throats." A drunken Deasley, according to Jon David Cash, "approached two women on the street. He apparently propositioned them, and, when his overtures were rejected, Deasley grabbed one of them by her arm. Both women escaped to the safety of a store that sold women's hats. Deasley steadfastly pursued them, and the Indianapolis police quickly arrived to arrest him 'for drunkenness and insulting ladies.' After being convicted on charges of drunkenness and assault, Deasley paid a ten-dollar fine and court costs for each offense."

Later, when the team was in Toledo, Deasley was beaten up by teammates Joe Quinn and Tom Dolan. Deasley was injured in the fight and was unable to play in "an embarrassing 16-2 shellacking at the hands of the first-year Brooklyn Trolley-Dodgers..."

On July 2, Deasley showed up drunk for a game against Baltimore. Held out of the game by Jimmy Williams, Deasley, according to Cash, "bitterly condemned the team's manager to the crowd" while his teammates were in the process of losing the game. As a result of his "jovial" antics, he was fined by the team and forced to sign an affidavit stating that he would refrain from alcohol for the rest of the season.

Late in the season, Deasley got into another fight with a teammate. This time it was Daisy Davis who Deasley battled in the dinning room of the Louisville Hotel. Deasley may also have been responsible for the Tom Dolan jumping to the Maroons. It seems that Dolan, who didn't much care for the "wild and jovial" Deasley, was unhappy that Deasley was starting at catcher ahead of him.

At the end of the 1884 season, the Browns sold Deasley to New York for $400 (although Baseball Reference states that Deasley was released by the Browns and signed with New York as a free agent). The Browns were on the verge of putting together their championship run and didn't need the kind of problems that Deasley brought. In a concise summation, Comiskey stated that Deasley was "a continual source of trouble to the team."


Quinn's biographer said...

Love your site, but I'm not sure about your reference to Deasley having been "beaten up by his teammates Joe Quinn and Tom Dolan" in 1884. Quinn and Deasley were never teammates: in 1884, Deasley was playing for the St. Louis Browns in the American Association, and Quinn was a member of the St. Louis Union Association outfit.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

You are absolutely right about Deasley and Quinn being on different clubs in 1884. Not sure what I was thinking or where I got the information about the fight. I'll have to check my notes. Send me an email at and I'll see what I have on Quinn in my (terribly unorganized) files.