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Pottsville’s Jack Quinn Resurfaces After Yankees Get Blown Out Thursday

The Yankees lost Thursday night.

Bad. Really bad!

Boston beat them 19-3.

And the person taking the heat for the loss is starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

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Bad. Really bad!

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The Red Sox scored 7 runs in the first inning and batted around on Tanaka. He pitched into the 4th inning, somehow. Mercifully, down 12-2, Yankees manager Aaron Boone pulled the starter Tanaka but not before one of the worst starting pitching nights in Yankees history. That’s 106 years of Yankees history.

The Masahiro Tanaka-Jack Quinn Connection

And that’s where the Masahiro Tanaka-Jack Quinn-Pottsville connection occurs.

Tanaka’s night ranked historically terrible. Here’s the line on Tanaka: He got just 10 Red Sox batters out. He allowed 12 runs on 12 hits. He walked 3 batters, too.

In fact, Yankees and baseball historians can only find a few worse performances by Yankees starters. Deadspin found a David Wells start in 1997 in which he only accomplished 10 outs allowing 11 runs. So, Tanka’s effort ranks worse.

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A Different Era

Tanaka’s effort also dredged up some more history … And finally, the Jack Quinn connection.

And Who is Jack Quinn?

Quickly, Jack Quinn lived in Pottsville until his death after retiring from professional baseball. He’s got a storied baseball career that includes capturing the World Series title for Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics. He holds or held several unique records, including several for being the oldest player to do this or that. And he was a legal spitball pitcher! More on that in a bit … back to Tanaka’s historically bad night …

jack quinn masahiro tanaka

Pottsville’s Jack Quinn epitomized the hardscrabble coal region on the field, including being one of the last legal spitball pitchers.

It was the 12th time in Yankees history in which a pitcher gave up 12 runs in a start, as pointed out by ESPN’s David Schoenfield. In 1912, the Yankees were called the New York Highlanders and a 28-year-old Quinn toed the rubber for them until a mid-season trade.

That trade came after two consecutive starts in which Quinn gave up 12 runs each time out.

The first game was a 13-6 loss to the same Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 29, 1912. Always deft with the bat, Quinn may have given up 12 runs on 21 hits over a complete game 8 innings, but he helped his own cause somewhat. He went 1-for-2 at the plate, drove in a run, and drew a pair of walks.

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Quinn’s second consecutive start in which he gave up 12 runs for the Highlanders was his last game with the team. It was the back end of a Fourth of July double-header in the nation’s capital against the Washington Senators.

The Highlanders lost 12-1 after getting trounced 12-5 in Game 1. Quinn went 1-for-3 in that game at the plate, upping his average to .205, in fact.

Jack Quinn’s Historically Long and Winding Road in Baseball

But this is about his performance on the mound that day. He did go the distance again, a very full 8 innings. Quinn allowed 12 runs on 15 hits, including a pair of home runs, to Danny Moeller and Roxey Roach. Roach’s homer was 1 of just 2 at bats he had that season.

Quinn took the loss and dropped to 5-7 for the Highlanders/Yankees. They traded him to Rochester in another league in August. He’d eventually be traded back to the Yankees in 1918 but finished the year with the White Sox. Quinn re-joined the Yankees in the 1918 offseason and then got traded in 1921 to the Red Sox before signing with the Philadelphia A’s in 1925. It’s there he’d be critical in the success of the A’s over the Murderer’s Row Yankees in 1929.

Quinn played until he was 50 years old and eventually retired to Pottsville.

That’s where Schoenfield picked up the story on Twitter Thursday.

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Schuylkill County’s Rich Baseball History

Did you know Jack Quinn mastered the spitball? Midway through his career, the league outlawed the spitball pitch. That was one of Quinn’s specialties and the league actually grandfathered him into the new rule, allowing him to throw it until he finished his career at age 50.

His remarkable but bittersweet story is just one of many linking the anthracite coal region, and Schuylkill County, to some great baseball lore. You can learn a little bit about some of these unique characters and innovators by taking our Schuylkill County Sports Stars Quiz. See if you can identify the coal region’s top sports stars, then learn more about them.

Take Our Sports Stars Quiz

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