Jack Quinn is the answer to several trivia questions, including: "Who is
the oldest man to appear in a World Series game?" and "Who is the oldest man to hit a homerun in a major league game?" His
career however, which included nearly 250 wins and two World Championships, is anything but trivial.
He was born John Quinn Picus on July 5, 1883 in Janesville, PA, by
adulthood his middle and last names were reversed and he became known as Jack Quinn. As a teenager Quinn began working in
the local coal mines and starring on the company baseball team. The beginning of his professional career is the stuff of legend.
While attending a semipro game as a spectator, the catcher allowed a passed
ball which rolled to Quinn who fired it back to him with such force and accuracy that the visiting manager offered him $5
if he pitched and won the next game, $2.50 if he lost. Quinn, of course, took him up on the offer.
In 1909, Quinn found himself in the big leagues with the American League's
New York Highlanders (later known as the Yankees). His first two seasons in New York were a success, as he posted 9-5 and
18-12 records with ERAs of 1.97 and 2.37. By 1912 however, his ERA had jumped to 5.79 and New York shipped him to the NL's
After one season in Boston, in which he pitched just 56 1/3 innings, the
spitballer jumped to the Baltimore Terrapins of the newly formed Federal League. Oddly enough, he enjoyed his finest season
(1914: 26-14, 2.60 ERA) and suffered through his worst (1915: 9-22) in the league's two year existence.
Quinn returned to the AL in 1918, joining the defending world champion
Chicago White Sox. In six games with the Sox (five starts), he went 5-1 with a 2.29 ERA. Following the season, the Yankees,
as they were now known, filed a grievance with the league, claiming Quinn was still their property. AL president Ban Johnson
agreed, and Quinn returned to the Big Apple.
After a solid 1919 campaign (15-14, 2.61 ERA), Quinn entered the 1920 season
with a new teammate that had been acquired over the winter from Boston -- George Herman Ruth. Although the Yankees did not
win the pennant that season, Quinn won 18 games, and the team showed signs that greatness was ahead.
Following the 1920 season, each league voted to outlaw the spitball, which
had been Quinn's staple pitch. The leagues however, did identify 17 pitchers who currently used the pitch and allowed them
to do so until they retired. Fortunately for Quinn, he was on that list.
Quinn helped the Yankees franchise win its' first pennant in 1921, going
8-7 in 33 appearances (13 starts). In his lone World Series start, he struggled allowing 4 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. The
Yankees meanwhile, fell to the cross-town Giants in eight games (the Series was a best-of-nine affair).
Unfortunately for Quinn, he wasn't able to stick around and reap the benefits
of the Ruth/Gehrig dynasty. On December 21, 1921 he was dealt to the now hapless Boston Red Sox along with three other players
for Everett Scott, Joe Bush, and Sam Jones, all of whom played integral roles in the Yankees future world championships.
Quinn spent the next two and half seasons in Boston, pitching reasonably
well for terrible teams. He was released however on June 10, 1925 after starting the season with a 7-8 record. Nearly 42 at
the time, his career appeared over.
Although he was a large man for his time (6'0", 196 lbs), "Big Jack" was
never known as a hard thrower, thus the loss of velocity that inevitably comes with age never was a factor. Philadelphia Athletics
owner/manger Connie Mack must have been thinking something to that effect when he plucked Quinn off waivers.
Out of baseball's wasteland of Boston, Quinn found new life with the emerging
Athletics. He went 15-10 in 1927, and posted one of his best seasons ever in 1928 (18-7, 2.90 ERA, 18 CG) at the age of 45.
Although his record dipped to 11-9 in 1929, the Athletics won the AL pennant and World Series. At age 46, he became the oldest
starting pitcher in the World Series history. After 19 big league seasons, Quinn was finally a champion.
It didn't take him nearly as long to get his second title. In 1930, at
age 47, Quinn became the oldest man to hit a home run and the Athletics won their second consecutive pennant and World Series.
During the series, Quinn became the oldest man to play in a Fall Classic.
Picked up by the Brooklyn Dodgers for the 1931 season, Quinn became the
oldest man to start a season opener. He went on to lead the NL in saves the next two seasons in Brooklyn (15 in 1931 and 8
in 1932). In 1932, at age 49, he became the oldest man to win a major league game.
Quinn joined his eighth team (a record at the time), the Cincinnati Reds,
for the 1933 season. On June 28, one week short of his 50th birthday, the veteran lost his final decision. During his 23 year
career, Quinn posted a 247-218 record with a 3.29 ERA.
Following his career, Quinn stayed close to the game, serving as the general
manager of the Braves and Phillies. He died on April 17, 1946 in Pottsville, PA at the age of 62.
-David Zingler, July 2004