Thursday, December 6, 2012

#264 Jamie Quirk - Kansas City Royals

Jamie Quirk's 8th Topps card is awash with blue as he breaks out of the batters box. The Catcher-3rd Base designation is a bit of a stretch as Quirk played just two innings at the hot corner in '82. 

Player: Jamie Quirk had a scholarship waiting at Notre Dame to play quarterback but he was persuaded to play for the Royals when they made him a first round pick in the '72 draft.  Quirk played seven different positions in a nomadic journey that saw him turn from infielder to catcher five years into his career.  

After playing shortstop and thirdbase in the minors, Quirk debuted with the Royals in '75 in leftfield and played in 14 games.  As a reserve in '76 he got some starts at DH and backed up thirdbase and shortstop. His offense (67 OPS+) left a lot to be desired and he was sent packing to the Brewers.  His stay in Milwaukee was spent as a part time DH/LF but he batted just .217.  He spent most of '78 in the minors before he was traded back to the Royals. 

Primarily a pinch hitter in 1979, Quirk posted a 112 OPS+ in 79 at bats while making the transition to catcher.  He worked behind the plate in blowouts before earning two starts at the end of the season.  The 1980 season saw Quirk fill in for George Brett at third and back up Darrell Porter and John Wathan behind the plate hitting .276/.305/.399 in 177 at bats.

Quirk was a little used reserve the next two years and he batted .250 and .231.  He signed with the Cardinals after the '83 season and batted .209 in 86 at bats.  When he failed to make the team the next spring training he was briefly added to the Cardinals coaching staff.  A month later he jumped at a playing contract with the White Sox.  He spent all but three pinch at bats in the minors before he was sold to the Indians in September.  He batted just once for the Tribe, but it culminated in a walk off home run.

Quirk returned to the Royals as a free agent but he toiled in the minors most of 1985.  He stayed with the big club in '86 and was starting the busiest portion of his career.  Quirk batted 804 times over the '86-'88 seasons hitting a career best 8 HR in '86 and again in '88 but generally continued to hit around .230.

The veteran backstop was with the Yankees, A's, and Orioles in '89 and hit .176 in 85 at bats.  He returned to Oakland and was a good back up to Terry Steinbach.  Quirk batted .281/.353/.413 in '90 and followed it up with a .261 average in '91.  In '92 he hit .220 and after the season he signed with the Reds.  He never played for Cincinnati however and his career was over after 18 seasons.

Flipside:  Quirk was well known as a slow base runner and you can see the only non-zero in his stolen base column is the three for the 1980 season.  Although he would play in ten more seasons he would steal just two more bases.
Oddball:  When Quirk retired he held the record for the most home runs for players whose last name began with Q.  He was the Royals bench coach in 2001 when KC slugger Mark Quinn tied his mark.  Quinn hit two more homers in 2002 to finish his career with 45, but by then Quirk was then on the Rangers staff.
History:  Quirk, a career .240/.298/.347 hitter, is listed as having -0.1 WAR, but his best asset was his versatility.  Left handed hitting catchers who can play multiple positions are not that common and Quirk parlayed his talent into a long career.  His most extensive action in the postseason came in '76 with one hit in eight at bats.  His third tour of duty with the Royals netted him a championship ring even though he played just 19 games in the regular season and one in the ALCS.  He was a backup on the A's teams and played just three games in the A's '90 and '92 run. 
Quirk is currently the Cubs bench coach.

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