The secret's out: American baseball legend was actually a Campbelltonian

Joe Quinn, pioneering baseball player, originally from Campbelltown.
Joe Quinn, pioneering baseball player, originally from Campbelltown.

CAMPBELLTOWN has reclaimed a lost son.

The "rediscovery" of Joe Quinn (pictured at left) also happens to be a case of perfect timing, given that the eyes of the sporting world will fall on Sydney this month for the historic Australian launch of the American baseball season.

Author Rochelle Llewelyn Nicholls has been hunting for Australia's baseball roots — and has unearthed them right here in Macarthur.

Dr Nicholls last week told the Advertiser that a remarkable young teenager left Campbelltown for the United States in the 1870s, where he carved a reputation on one of the most competitive sporting stages in the world.

Her new book, Joe Quinn Among the Rowdies, retraces the colourful life of Joe "Undertaker" Quinn, a man whose Major League debut predated the next Australian in professional baseball by more than 100 years.

"I'm sure your readers will enjoy hearing the story of one of their own who made it big," Dr Nicholls said. "And it is a timely story coming on the eve of the Major League series in Sydney."

Quinn was born to Irish parents in the Queensland bush in 1862, but drought forced his family south to NSW shortly afterward.

It was the rural landscape of Campbelltown that shaped his childhood.

But exact details of the Quinns' lives here, until 1872, are clouded in mystery.

And that has whetted the appetite of Campbelltown Library's local studies librarian, Andrew Allen, who has asked for public help.

"Joe's father was an illiterate labourer with a history of finding work wherever he could get it - he had previously worked as a farmer, miner, and railway navvie," Mr Allen said.

were regularly exploited by unscrupulous owners. He was, perhaps, the quintessential good bloke."

James Penman, a senior vice-president of the Macarthur Baseball League, is also fascinated by the news of Quinn and the importance of the local area to baseball.

"Macarthur Baseball is buzzing at the moment with the upcoming Major League match at the SCG and the knowledge our own Matthew Williams, from Camden, will be pitching for the Australian team when they take on the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks," he said.

Other locals have followed in Joe Quinn's footsteps, he pointed out. Not only Matthew Williams, who signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2004 but Brendan Kingman of Mount Annan who signed with the Florida Marlins in 1992 and holds the record for the most home runs hit for the Australian baseball team.

Glenn Williams, who started with the Ingleburn Magpies, signed with the Atlanta Braves in 1993 and made his Major League debut in 2005 with the Minnesota Twins.

"Both Brendan and Glenn won an Olympic silver medal in Athens in 2004 and are members of the Australian Baseball Hall of Fame — with Joe Quinn," he said.

Joe Quinn Among the Rowdies is published by McFarland Inc (mcfarland pub.com).

■ Anyone with details on Joe Quinn's Campbelltown roots can contact Dr Nicholls: rochelle@rochellenicholls .com or 0417 092 766.

From the archives: Baseball is not new to Australia, as shown by this Sydney Morning Herald glass negative image from the 1920s.

From the archives: Baseball is not new to Australia, as shown by this Sydney Morning Herald glass negative image from the 1920s.

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