Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tom Quinlan Interview

Today's interview is with Tom Quinlan.  Tom was a third baseman in the Blue Jays, Phillies and Twins organization.  If you ever walk around Target Field, you'll see his name engraved in a section dedicated to Minnesotans who have played for the Twinkies.  His story is unique as he was one of the best athletes who had the opportunity to play professionally in more than one sport.  Here is his link to his Baseball Reference page:

And now for the interview, enjoy:

Out of Hill Murray High School you were drafted in both baseball (Toronto 27th round) and hockey (Calgary Flames 4th round).  What made you pick baseball over hockey?

It was the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life. I was going to play baseball and hockey at the University of Minnesota and then Toronto and Calgery where trying to sign me. I had started baseball and hockey practice at the U of M. About a week before school started the Blue Jays flew me to Toronto for a weekend and worked me out. When I got back on Monday they made me an offer and and I turned it down. Everyday for a week they kept making the offer better. I had moved into my dorm and was ready to start school on Monday when they made their last offer and I decided to sign. I loved both hockey and baseball but felt like I could have a longer career in baseball as the risk of injury is less. In looking back many have said I was a better hockey player. Things turned out well and was lucky enough to be on a World Series team.  

-After playing in the States, you went to play in Korea and won an MVP in 2000.  Why did you decide to play there and how did it differ from playing in the MLB and MiLB? 

The reason I went to Korea was two fold. One, was they paid five times more money than I would make playing in AAA. It was near the end of my career and I knew I would most likely never get back to the Big Leagues. I was hoping to play in Japan and felt like Korea was a stepping stone to get there. I played 3 years in Korea and had a lot of fun. The biggest difference in Korea was they believed that if you practice for an hour and were this good, then if you practiced for ten hours you would be ten times better. Well, that is not the case as your body needs rest as much as it needs practice. It was a little diffucult not speaking the language but we had a translator which helped. I was lucky to win the Korean Wold Series my first year in Korea. I enjoyed it very much.

-You were able to spend two seasons in the Minnesota Twins system.  What was it like getting to play for the hometown team? 

Playing in the Big Leagues is a dream come true and playing for your home town team is that much better. Then getting to play with two Hall of Famers in Kirby Puckett and Paul Molitor was very special. Starting my first game at home was the most nerve racking experiance of my life. With all my family and friends there I wanted to play well for them. I will never forget a conversation I had before that game with Paul Molitor, a 14 or 15 year veteran. He said the first game he played wearing a Twins unifrom was the most nervous he had ever been on a baseball field.

-The Quinlan family is known for baseball.  Robb played eight years in Majors for the Angels and Craig played one season in the Jays system.  Were you able to help your younger brothers with their careers? 

The Quinlans are a very close family and we try to help each other out whenever possible. Robb and Craig learned a lot from me because I could tell them what to expect along the way and how to handle things that might come up. Robb played much longer than Craig and had the best career of the three of us. Robb and I would talk hitting when ever possible and I would try to help out with his fielding as that is what I was really good at.

-Is there anything else you would like to add or any stories you’d be willing to share? 

My favorite story was in the 1992 ALCS we were playing In Oakland for game 4 or 5. Oakland had a lead in the 8th. With 2 outs and guys on base they brought in Dennis Eckersly. Ed Sprauge pinch hit and had two strikes on him. Now we had a scouting report that Eck was tipping his picthes so we knew every pitch before he let go of the ball. He struke out Sprauge and pumped his fist at out dugout and said, "Fuck you!" We held them in the bottom of the inning. In the top of the 9th we where able to get  2 runners on base and Roberto Alamar hit a 3 run HR to give us the lead. The thing I remember the most was every guy in our dugout was yelling at Eck and calling him every name in the book. His fist pump the inning prior fired us up and we were not going to lose. We went on to beat them and win the World Series against Atlanta. I have been very blessed!

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