Title: Baseball player, cigar maker, tobacco shop owner
Birthdate: January 1861
Death Date: December 25, 1910
Plot Location: Section 133, Lot 81
John was the son of an Irish couple, William and Margaret Gable Deasley, and the younger brother of Thomas “Pat” Deasley, a fellow Mt. Moriah Notable. Both Pat and John were baseball players, but John remained in the shadow of his older brother, finding his success would exceed Pat’s after they were off the field.
Like their father, both boys took up the trade of cigar making, but John made it his career after his short affair with sports. 1884 was a pivotal time for John, starting with his wedding day on March 11. His wife for life was Gertrude Bicking, and they had four children: Gertrude, Alfred John, Willard, and Ruth. Unfortunately, Willard died by age 2 and Ruth at age 5. Three months after their wedding, John played his first pro game.
Baseball has undergone many changes through the years but many things are the same. Major league clubs were in large cities and those in minor leagues were in small towns, serving as the training ground for players who would move into the majors. They were home to the up-and-coming as well as the used-to-be players of the time. In 1869, players were considered “professionals” because that is the year they were first paid to play. During the 1880s when John was playing, minor league teams and players came and went quickly.
John got his start in the majors. He was 23 and a member of the Union Association, which only existed for the 1884 season. He would play first for the Washington Nationals and then the Kansas City Unions, the first major league baseball team west of the Mississippi. His last game was played on September 8, 1884. In his 44 major league games, John had 174 at bats with a batting average of 207. The Unions finished the season with a 21-59 record and ceased to exist, but this team photo still does. Perhaps one of those pictured is John.
After that season he drifted in and out of the minor leagues until 1890. But in the meantime John put his experience with cigars to work for him by opening his own business, a profitable tobacco store at 2005 Germantown Ave.
His father sometimes listed his occupation as cigar maker in his later years until he died in 1898, and probably helped in John’s business. Pat never listed an occupation after he was done with baseball, but perhaps he helped his father and brother, since he continued living with them and never married. John and Gertrude moved to 2358 Germantown Ave. where John died on Christmas Day, 1910. The cause of death was “acute hydrocephalus, probably alcoholic.” (The fraternal society mentioned in this obituary is the Improved Order of Red Men, but members were not Native Americans.)
Gertrude buried him beside their two young children, but she continued to run the store for many years. She remained in the home John bought until she died in 1942 at age 79. Her brother-in-law died less than six months later. John would be pleased to know his son served in World War I and his grandson served in World War II.
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