Thomas Finners Quinlan was born on October 21, 1887. He was the son of Michael and Mary Evers Quinlan. He is listed in many newspapers accounts of the time as Tommy but in baseball reference as Finners Quinlan. Quinlan batted and threw left-handed. He was 5 feet 8 inches and weighed 154 lbs.
His baseball career started in the Old Catholic temperance leagues. The temperance movement was a movement in the Church to promote abstaining from liquor. The church sponsored baseball teams. Finners’ first team was St. John’s, next St. Peter’s and finally with the legendary Minooka Blues. The Blues were virtually unbeatable and known for their bunting and speed. The Blues produced several big league players as well as minor league players. These players included: Minooka Mike McNally, Chick Shorten, Festus Higgins, Jack O’Neil, Mike O’Neil, Jimmy O’Neil and Steve O’Neil. ( Scranton Times)
Thomas got his first taste of pro ball when he played in one minor league game for Scranton in 1908. He played the outfield and had an assist to go with a single in 4 at bats. He played for the Steubenville Stubs of the Ohio-Pennsylvania League and his hometown Scranton Miners of the NY State League in 1911. His manger in Scranton was Monte Cross. He hit a combined .257 (Baseballreference.com) Finners also pitched in 5 games with an 0-3 record. He surrendered 29 hits, 13 walks and 25 runs. He remained with Scranton for the 1912 season. He was managed by former major league HR champ, Buck Freeman. He finished the season hitting .273.
In 1913, Finners was again a Scranton Miner. The Miners had 2 managers John Kelly and Dick Smith. Other future major league players on the 1913 Miners included Wally Pipp .Finners hit.283 playing the outfield for the Miners in NY State League. The Miners finished dead last winning only 49 games. His over-all play earned Quinlan his first shot in the majors with St. Louis Cardinals in 1913. Finners’ first game September 6th of 1913 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a 4-2 loss. In 13 games, he hit .160 with one RBI. His one RBI was against the New York Giants’ Christy Matthewson.
Quinlan had some disputes over money with the Cardinal Organization. An article in winter of 1914 in the Elmira Star Gazette stated he was still the property of the Cardinals.
It was back to the minors in 1914. The Sporting Life announced Finners signing with Oakland in a small article on February 14th of 1914. Finners played Centerfield for the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League. This was the equivalent of AA baseball today. Again, Finners played solid hitting .290 in a 180 games. He also had 700 plate appearances. The Pittsburgh Press reported that Tommy Quinlan was likely to be drafted. He was “a corking good hitter, a fair man on the paths and a good fielder”. Tommy would not get a chance in the major leagues in 1914. (August 4,1914 Pittsburgh Press)
February 27, 1915 Finners made the front page of the Sporting Life, a very small article. He had returned his contract to the Chicago Club and Mr. Comiskey unsigned because he was not satisfied with the amount he was being paid.
In 1915, Finners had another shot in the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox. Finners hit .193 in 42 games. He did play outstanding defense. He committed no errors in 42 chances and had 5 outfield assists, including 2 double plays. Finners was also hit by a pitch 8 times while collecting 4 base on balls. He played his last game for the White Sox on July 15, 1915. This would also be his last in the Majors.
Quinlan played the rest of 1915 in the Pacific Coast League again, this time for the Salt Lake City Bees. Salt Lake City finished second in 1915 winning 108 games. They were managed by Cliff Blankenship and played their home games in Bonnelville Park. In 71 games with the Bees, Finners hit .306. This was the 19th best average in the league and he also had 18 doubles.
In 1916, Finners was back in Salt Lake City. He played in 181 games and had his best season of his career. He hit .313 with 241 hits. He had the most hits in the PCL in 1916. His average was 6th best in the league. His 49 doubles were tied for 3rd best in the Pacific Coast League. He also led the league with 43 outfield assists and 22 errors. Salt Lake City finished with a 99-96 record which was good for 3rd place.
1917 was Finners last year in baseball. He played with Salt Lake City, in a 182 games batting .254.
In 1918 Finners was traded from Salt Lake City to Columbus Senators of the American Association for Larry Chappell.. There is no record of Finners playing for Columbus. Joe Tinker was the manager of Columbus.
In 1918 the United States was in the middle of World War I. Thomas enlisted in the Army. He trained at Camp Lee in Virginia in August of 1918. He served in Company K, 28th Infantry/1st Division. Finners fought in the biggest offensive of World War I. He was injured in Argonne Drive in France. He lost his left eye and left arm, ending his baseball career. “I lasted only one inning in the big game,” Quinlan said. He was hit with an explosive shell only 2 or 3 hours after the battle had started. (Sporting Life, September 9,1918). “ We went from one shell hole to another…shells, high explosives and gas fell all about us.” (Binghamton Press, March 10, 1919). Sadly, the battle occurred 2 days before armistice came.
In November of 1918 he was convalescing in Europe. He returned to Scranton in March of 1919. Quinlan was offered a job by Joe Tinker of the Columbus team if he wanted it. (Pittsburgh Press) Finners had other plans.
In October 18, 1919 a charity game was played for Finners at Scranton’s Athletic Park. The event raised $1413.20 . Cleveland Indians’ stars Joe Wood and Steve O’Neil played as well as Bucky Harris and Jimmy O’Neil of the Washington Senators, Chick Shorten of the Detroit Tigers, Festus Higgins of the Binghamton Bingoes and Mike McNally of the Boston Red Sox.
T.F. Quinlan entered the political realm in 1919 when he ran for county commissioner of Lackawanna County in Pennsylvania. A political new comer, he emerged as the top vote getter for county commissioner.
This was the start of a long career of public service. He was re-elected Commissioner in 1923. In 1927, he tried to win re-election as minority commisioner and lost to John Healey. Healey was winning by 500 plus votes and Quinlan asked for certain ballot boxes to be impounded and recounted. ( The Scranton Republican, Novmember 10,1927 p1) The result was Quinlan still lost. He ran for and was elected a Scranton city councilman in 1929. He served one term. He re-entered County politics to run for Register of Wills in 1933 and held this position until his retirement for health reasons in 1949. His wife was Louise Leyh Quinlan. They had one daughter, Mrs. Paul R. Krupski, and 5 grandchildren.
T.F. Quinlan was admitted to Mercy Hospital on February 6, 1966. He died on the February 17, 1966. He is buried in St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA. (February 18, 1966 Scranton Times p. 3)
Elmira Star Gazette
The Scranton Times