Jack Quinn was somewhat of late bloomer when he made his major league debut with the New York Highlanders. He was 25, which is far from old, even in 1900s baseball. However, more than 50 other rookie pitchers who played in the 1909 season were younger than him.
Despite that, Quinn stuck around quite a while. He played four seasons with the Highlanders, then had a couple years in Brooklyn and Baltimore. After totally missing two major league season, Quinn played for the White Sox, a couple more years for the now Yankees, and then had some time with the Red Sox.
Quinn was already into his 40s when he arrived in Philadelphia, where his stint with the Athletics would be the longest of his career.
In 1929, 20 years after his debut, Quinn was still pitching as a 45-46 year old. On September 2, 1929, he got the start against the Yankees, about two months after his 46th birthday.
Quinn’s second stint in New York overlapped with the team’s first even World Series appearance in 1921, however by now, the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig era was in full swing. The Yankees were two-time defending champions. However, they were well out of it that year, as Quinn’s Athletics ran away with the AL.
Whatever slim chances the Yankees had to track down Philadelphia that years were helped as the Yankees scored a run in the top of the first. Cedric Durst and Ruth singled, before Earlie Combs scored Durst on a ground out.
The first two Yankees’ hitters singled to start the second, but Quinn got out of it by getting a double play.
From the third to eight innings, just three Yankees’ hitters reached base, and only one got into scoring position. The 46-year old Quinn, shutdown his former team. Meanwhile, Philadelphia scored 10 runs, and the game was over by the time it went to the ninth inning.
The Yankees scored two consolation runs in the ninth, but they had no real impact on the game. The Athletics won 10-3, and Quinn had thrown a complete game. After Ruth’s single in the first, neither him or Gehrig reached base until that ninth inning when the game was out of hand. Not counting those two mostly unimportant hits, they went a combined 1-6. Quinn allowed 11 hits, but again, a lot came in the ninth.
In this game, Quinn was the oldest starting pitcher to ever get a win against the Yankees. Unless Bartolo Colon can hold on another year, and manage to do enough against a likely great Yankees’ lineup, it’s hard to see that mark getting broken soon.
Quinn actually managed to continue on for four further years, where his old team somewhat did get the last laugh. He made two more starts against the Yankees, allowing nine runs in a combined eight innings. Philadelphia lost both of those games handily.
His final appearance came six days after his 50th birthday. Quinn threw 1.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the Reds. Cincinnati released him about a week after that, and his major league career was finally over.
The Yankees of the late 20s notoriously had a great offense. Yet, at least for one day, a 46-year old could dominate them.
All data courtesty of the Baseball Reference Play Index