Sept. 5, 2011
After Quinlan hung up his Major League Baseball cleats in 2011, some athletes would look at their life and have a ‘what now’ moment. However, Quinlan is a different type of athlete with different type of goals. Finishing his collegiate career in 1999 with a degree in speech communications, Quinlan is ready for the next step, but also staying close to the game he loves. Combining the two and paying it forward to the program that he has great respect for, the Gopher All-American will be a volunteer coach and hitting instructor for Minnesota during the 2011-12 campaign.
“I talked to the coaches last year after I was done playing baseball and they just talked to me about possibly coming up and helping out,” Quinlan said. “I got home and I was just really excited to come back and help out. I thought it be a lot of fun for me and a good way to stick around the game. So I came back up and really found out I love doing it.”
Quinlan joined the Gopher staff last season when Minnesota was in the heat of the Big Ten Conference race and prior to the Penn State series in May. After playing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for eight years, Quinlan signed a free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. However, prior to the start of the season, Quinlan asked for his release and return to his native state. In talking with coaches John Anderson and Rob Fornasiere, the idea of staying in the game as a coach was intriguing. Although coming in during the middle of the season, Quinlan looks as his experience as a positive and wants to learn from his first year of coaching.
“I think last year just being here for part of the season I sat back and was more just trying to learn the players personally on the field,” Quinlan said. “Their swings, their habits, stuff that you really need to get to learn rather than just jumping in and telling them what to do. I was just trying to learn and see what they like to do, things that make them feel better on the field. I think this year, now that I’ve gotten to know a lot of the guys and have seen the things they do on the field, I think I have a better understanding of all the players and hopefully it’ll give me a chance to help them become better players.”
Following his Gopher career, Quinlan was drafted by the Angels in the 10th round of the 1999 amateur draft. In his eight seasons with Anaheim, Quinlan played in 458 games and held a career .276 batting average. In the 2006 season, Quinlan had his best season, as he batted .321 average. He also had 32 RBI and nine home runs in 234 at bats. Quinlan hopes to bring his professional experience and knowledge back to the collegiate game this season both on and off the field.
“I think being around professional ball a lot of years you start to pick up different things and obviously you’re constantly learning more and more trying to be a better player,” Quinlan said. “I think people always have a lot of questions about it. I’m going to just tell them how it is. Some days are easy some days are hard. Its baseball, it’s a fun game, but I’m always open to share my experiences with our players. I think obviously you bring credibility when you’ve played before. To come back to where you played college ball, I think guys really respect that. I think I have some things to share and I’m always open for kids to ask me as many questions as they want. I’m always open to let you know how things were and how things can be in the future.”
Quinlan has knowledge to share, not only about his professional career, but as a collegiate player as well. One of Minnesota’s best hitters to come through the Gopher program, Quinlan was a three-time All-American named the 1999 Big Ten Player of the Year. Set to be inducted into the U of M Hall of Fame this month, Quinlan remains at the top of the career batting record in nearly every category. He still holds school records in at bats (906), hits (345), doubles (79), home runs (55), total bases (617), runs scored (249) and RBI (230). Using his hitting prowess, the Gopher hitting coach has one goal this year: to make the current set of Golden Gophers better.
“I played here for four years had a great time playing in this program,” Quinlan said. “More than anything I just wanted to come back and be a part of it. It’s been such a great program and I want to share my experiences with the players that are here. The biggest thing is I’m just here trying to help the kids get better, help them have a fun time and become better student athletes.”
Written by Michelle Traen, Minnesota Athletic Communications