(Photo courtesy ChicagoCubsFan Diana)
Bio written by BCB reader flyingdonut
Note from Al: The fact that DeJesus is #100 on the list, and thus the first in the series to appear, is strictly a coincidence (though a heck of one!), as I had completed the list long before DeJesus was hired this week as Lou Piniella's "Special Assistant".
DeJesus hit .261/.329/.336 in 768 games as a Cub, with 756 hits in 2900 at-bats, 14 HR, and 154 stolen bases.
Ivan DeJesus was the Cubs starting shortstop from 1977-1981. Named the 100th best shortstop of all time by Bill James in the Historical Baseball Abstract, the slick-fielding, light-hitting DeJesus is best known to Cubs fans as being the main part of the trade with the Philadelphia Phillies in January, 1982 that brought Ryne Sandberg to Chicago.
DeJesus was originally drafted by the Dodgers in 1969, and broke in with Los Angeles in 1974. He played 88 games for the Dodgers, mostly in defensive situations. On January 11, 1977, he was traded to the Cubs along with Jeff Albert and Bill Buckner for Rick Monday and Mike Garman. Installed as the starting shortstop, DeJesus responded with a fine year, leading the Cubs in AB, runs, hits, triples and stolen bases, as the Cubs led the National League Eastern Division as late as August 5 before collapsing down the stretch.
DeJesus followed up his 1977 season with another strong season in 1978, leading the National League in runs with 104, while leading the Cubs in AB, runs, hits and stolen bases. The Cubs finished 79-83, collapsing down the stretch. DeJesus had perhaps his best overall season in 1978, hitting .283 in 636 AB with an on base percentage of .345. James, in his 1979 Baseball Abstract, listed Ivan as the third best shortstop in the league, and the third best player on the Cubs, behind Kingman and Sutter. The Cubs had another mediocre season, finishing 80-82, and fired Herman Franks with seven games remaining.
DeJesus was named the best player on the Cubs in 1980 in the 1981 Baseball Abstract, which probably said something about the Cubs. In his Age 27 season, DeJesus slipped to .259, usually hitting first or second in the batting order. The Cubs cratered to a 64-98 record. In that year, he had the best game of his career, on April 22 vs. the Cardinals, going 5-for-6 and hitting for the cycle.
DeJesus' last season with the Cubs was the strike-shortened 1981 season, which had one of the worst Cubs teams over the past 60 years, as the team finished 39-64. DeJesus had the worst season of his career, falling to a .194 batting average in 403 AB, with a stunning .233 slugging percentage, the worst in the National League for a starter. In one of the best trades in Cubs history, new Cubs GM Dallas Green traded DeJesus to the Phillies on January 27, 1982 for Bowa and a throw-in 3B named Sandberg.
DeJesus served as the Phillies starting shortstop from 1982-1984, playing in the World Series in 1983. He was traded to the Cardinals in April, 1985, where he appeared in his second straight World Series. He was granted free agency from the Cardinals in 1985, and kicked around baseball for the next three years, playing his last game with the Tigers in July, 1988.
Since retiring from the majors DeJesus has been coaching and managing in the minor league systems - with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization in 1990-91, Seattle Mariners in 1992, and as a coach with the Houston Astros organization starting in 1994. Since 2001 DeJesus has been a manager with various Astros minor league teams, and received the 2003 Player Development Man of the Year award. DeJesus was named the 2005 Carolina League Manager of the Year after guiding Salem within one game of the playoffs. He finished 2006 as the manager of the Greenville Astros, Houston's Appalachian League team.