Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tom Quinlan, With It - 22

Originally published May 6, 2012
The ball off Shawon Dunston's bat took a bad hop in this 1994 game, The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote. But sticking with it and making the game-saving play was Phillies third baseman Tom Quinlan.

"He played a heck of a game for us," Phillies manager Jim Fregosi told The Inquirer of Quinlan. "That ball Dunston hit really came up on him."

In describing Quinlan's defense, which included a second good play an inning later in the ninth, The Inquirer also referenced, Quinlan's past - as a fourth-round draft pick for the Calgary Flames.

Given the choice between baseball and hockey, though, the Minnesota-native and right-winger Quinlan chose baseball. He also went on to a career that spanned 16 seasons, got him to the majors for brief parts of four and even took him to Korea.

Quinlan's baseball career started in the 1986 draft, taken by the Blue Jays in a far lower round than he was taken in the hockey draft, the 27th round. Quinlan, though, signed with Toronto straight out of Hill-Murray High School in Maplewood, Minn.

Quinlan started with the Blue Jays at single-A Myrtle Beach in 1987. That spring, he also hit a home run in a game. The infielder hit .223 in 132 games. He moved to AA Knoxville in 1988, hitting .218 in 98 games.

Quinlan stayed at Knoxville through 1990, hitting 16 home runs in 1989 and 15 in 1990. One of his home runs tied an April contest. That September, though, he got called up straight to Toronto. He also got into just one game, going 1 for 2 in three plate appearances.

Quinlan returned to AAA Syracuse for 1991, the first of three seasons he played at Syracuse. He made it back to Toronto in only one of those seasons, 1992. Quinlan got into 13 games, getting just one hit in 15 at bats.

For 1994, he signed with the Phillies. He also played in 24 games with the big club. In May, it was an injury to another player that led to Quinlan getting back to the majors. The call up kind of caught Quinlan off guard, he told The Inquirer.

"I'm a little surprised. I didn't know anyone was hurt," Quinlan told The Inquirer. "I hope to have a chance to show I can play. If you do a job, who knows? Maybe you can stay a while."

Quinlan showed off his defense, especially in that one game. At the plate, though, he still hit just .200 in 35 at bats.

 Quinlan signed with Minnesota for 1995, playing the year at AAA Salt Lake. In July, he had a game-winning home run.

"I've been swinging at a lot of bad pitches," Quinlan told The Deseret News after that game. "I've been behind in the count and making things difficult for myself. Tonight, I tried to be more relaxed and not quite as aggressive and it was a little bit better."

Quinlan got into four final games in the majors the next April, in 1996, with the Twins. He got no hits in six at bats.

Quinlan continued playing in the minors through 1999, going through the Rockies, Rangers and Cubs systems. In 2000, he moved to Korea, winning Korean Series MVP his first year there. He then played in Korea through 2002, ending his career.

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