September 25, 2012
The question often comes up: how old is A’s pitcher Jack Quinn? Nobody knows for sure. He refuses to give his birthday, or even his birthplace. “I’ll tell my age when I quit,” he told one sportswriter. Most folks believe it was 1883. As for his heritage? Not sure there either. Some say Russian, others say Indian, and still others say Polish or Greek. The most likely story? He was born in Slovakia (part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time of his birth) in 1883 with the name Johannes Pajkos. His family moved to America when he was young, and his mother and father both passed away by the time he was a teenager.
He played for a factory baseball team, but his discovery was by pure chance. He was stumbled upon, remarkably, when he caught a foul ball at a semi-pro game and whipped it back so hard and accurately to the catcher that the manager signed him on the spot.
He bounced around the majors for years, and when Connie signed him in 1925 it marked his 7th team since he entered the bigs in 1909. He’s been a mainstay on the A’s staff ever since. Now 46 years old, this afternoon he will become the oldest pitcher to start a World Series game.** He has a number of pitches, including a fastball, changeup, curveball, and a spitter (He was grandfathered in when the spitter became illegal in 1919.)
His opponent will be Charlie Root, who started Game One of this tilt, and the tough-as-nails righty was quite effective, I must say.
*Most of the info about Jack Quinn comes from his SABR page.
**he still holds the record…Moyer was 45 when he started Game 3 of the 2008 WS.