Friday, June 20, 2014 12:06 AM
Meet the Tobs: Quinn Atwood
Texas-native nearly played football in college, but stuck with his first love
By Randy Jones Staff Writer
Quinn Atwood didn’t learn his nasty split-finger fastball from the inventor of the pitch. But he certainly gleaned knowledge from the man who arguably mastered it — seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens.
A reliever for most of his career, Atwood appeared in just two games for Texas State University in his freshman campaign — amassing just 1/3 of an inning and an earned run average of 54.40.
But with the Tobs so far this season, Atwood has already appeared in six games — four of them as a starter. He is 1-2 with an ERA of 4.95, having struck out 11 batters in 20 innings of work.
Times sports reporter Randy Jones sat down with Atwood to ask him a few questions about baseball, life and his time so far in Wilson.
Wilson Times: What is your favorite baseball movie?
Quinn Atwood: "Ummm, I’d have to say, "Field of Dreams.” I’m not really sure why. I saw it when I was young, and just the whole dad theme and everything. I’m a big family guy, so I loved that.”
WT: Texas State University, where is that?
QA: "It’s in San Marcos. It’s in between Austin and San Antonio. I love it there. It’s beautiful. A river runs through the campus, I can’t complain.”
WT: When did you start playing baseball?
QA: "I actually started playing when I was 3. I have four older brothers and they all played before me. My dad played in high school. I almost had to play.”
WT: Who inspired you, your brothers?
QA: "Oh yeah, my brothers did. Just watching them play.”
WT: Did any of them play in college?
QA: "I had a brother (Bret) play center field before me at Texas State before I got there . And then for three years another brother (Colt) played at Sam Houston State, center fielder there also. He actually got drafted in the 2014 draft. In the 38th round, but I’ll take it. He got drafted by the Oakland A’s.”
WT: Is he going to sign or go back to school?
QA: "Oh yeah, he’s excited, very. He was just a junior, so we don’t know yet. They are still talking money and everything. You know how it goes.”
WT: Do you remember your first game?
QA: "Oh gosh, I don’t remember much. I’ve played so many games I couldn’t go back to my first one.”
WT: You got a chance to pitch against Texas this year, right?
QA: "In the fall, yeah. It was my first college appearance. It was exciting. Just even playing in the fall, we were playing in front of 5,000 people there. They get huge support, it’s crazy. I think I gave up two runs in that one inning just nerve-wracking. But it was definitely fun and definitely a great learning experience.”
WT: I saw you only pitched in two games this year, why was that?
QA: "I was young. I threw well in the fall and then came out in the spring and we had some really good guys. Our starters, our relievers, just are older guys, we had some good guys. You know, I threw well at the beginning of the season, I made an appearance and then just didn’t throw to great in practice.”
WT: Was it frustrating?
QA: "It was hard. But, I knew my place. I was still a good teammate. I’ve never really complained about playing time. I was the one that was controlling it really.
WT: You are getting innings now. Are you happy with the way things are going here in Wilson?
QA: "I am. I had one rough outing, but obviously it happens you know. So far, I am pretty happy with what I’ve done. My big thing is throwing a lot of strikes. Getting all my pitches for strikes. Off-speed and everything.”
WT: What is your goal for the summer?
QA: "Really, just getting a lot of innings in. Boost my velocity a bit and obviously help the Tobs win.”
WT: Is there any player you’d like to pitch to?
QA: "Well, there is one just because he’s a Texas State alum that I watched play with my brother was Paul Goldschmidt. Really, it’s been weird watching him grow and become one of the best NL hitters. It’s been fun to watch him. I don’t think I’d really want to face him, though.”
WT: Pete Rose managed in a game tonight. Are you cool with that?
QA: "Yes. I think he should be in the hall of fame. He belongs in the game. Did he treat it right all the time? No. But I’m also a little too young to know much about him.”
WT: Speaking of ex-major leaguers, I heard you have a history with Roger Clemens and he taught you the split-finger fastball.
QA: "I was actually about 12 and then the Clemenses they have a house out in Houston and I played with Kacy Clemens all growing up. I was at his house one day and he was catching our bullpens, Roger was, and he said ‘Try this pitch.’ And he put the ball in there for me and said ‘Just throw it like a fastball.’ And surely enough it just fell off the table.”
WT: Was he just another guy to you? Or were you in awe of him?
QA: "I mean at first when he came to a practice we were 12-year-old kids who watched him win seven Cy Youngs and saw him on TV and we’re looking up to this big old dude. Nah, but after that he was one of the best guys I’ve ever met. He was really caring. Really what you’d want in a major league guy.”
WT: Did you start throwing that splitter immediately? Or did you wait?
QA: "I started it to use it that season at 12 and it’s really been my pitch that people kind of know about since then.”
WT: Do you tell people that he’s the one who taught you?
QA: "If it gets brought up, I’ll of course give him credit, because he certainly deserved the credit.”
WT: Who is your favorite player? Is it Roger?
QA: "He’s in there. He’s in it. He’d be up there, but I’m a big Adam Wainwright fan. Because he has a disgusting curveball.”
WT: You an Astros fan?
QA: "Yes. I’m an all-Houston fan. I’m an Astros guy at heart.”
WT: The NBA finals, did San Antonio winning it hurt for a Rockets guy?
QA: "I mean, good for Texas, but I’m more of a Rockets guy and I’m also a LeBron James fan.”
WT: Do you think LeBron gets too much criticism?
QA: "He seems to handle it pretty well, I’d have to say. He knows he’s one of the best out there and because of that, he handles it very well.”
WT: Is he going to stay in Miami?
QA: "I don’t know, but Houston would love to have him!”
WT: What do you think of Tim Duncan?
QA: "Love him. Because from what I can see he’s just a good guy that plays the game the right way.”
WT: What does it say about the Spurs, they won their first title something like 15 years ago?
QA: "Beating the young guy, that’s what I like to see. Really with just good, basic basketball.”
WT: What do you think of Wilson? What were you expecting?
QA: "Honestly, coming from a big town like Houston, I honestly thought it was just going to be this small little town. But actually, I’ve been very impressed. The stadium here, it is awesome. And everyone here has been super nice and it’s been awesome. I’ve enjoyed it.”
WT: Anything you want to see in North Carolina before you leave?
QA: "I’d never even been on the East Coast. I want to see the beach. I know that’s not in Wilson, but I have never been in the Atlantic.”
WT: What are your goals as far as baseball? Did seeing your brother get drafted have an impact?
QA: "My brother (Colt), he showed me really that he was a hard worker. Kind of growing up, even in high school, your skills just kind of took over for you when they needed to. Now at this level, it’s the mental side. Really, you have to work hard and take care of your body. That’s something I never understood growing up. I just went out and played ball. But now, everyone is on your level or better and you’ve got to work for what you want. Hopefully, I do. I am going to strive for it.”
WT: What is your major?
QA: "I’m a business management major. My dad actually sells cars back in Houston. That might be an option. But I really would like to coach. So, I’m kind of mixed emotions.”
WT: When did you get your first cell phone?
QA: "It was seventh grade, so I guess I was 13 or so.”
WT: What kind was it? Was it a flip phone?
QA: "No, it was one of those that slid up, a slide phone? It had a little full keyboard. It was big time, man. Big time.”
WT: Could you live without one now?
QA: "I think I could. It would be tough, just because that’s what this world has come to with cell phones and all. But I think I could do it because I’ve always lived somewhat out in the country.”
WT: Do you care about the World Cup at all?
QA: "I do. I’ll cheer for the U.S.A. of course. I’m kind of bummed they’re playing tonight (Monday). But I may have to sneak my phone out and get some updates.”
WT: Do they have a shot at getting out of the group stage?
QA: "I hope they do. It would really just be good for the country just to see that.”
WT: Who do you think will win?
QA: "Ahhhh...I’ve got to go with the hosts, Brazil.”
WT: Have you ever pitched a no-hitter?
QA: "No, I have not. I don’t think I’ve ever been that close at all. I’m never really been a starter, always a reliever.”
WT: Do you miss the other parts of baseball? The hitting, the fielding a position, all that?
QA: "I was a center fielder in high school, and I came into Texas State as both a pitcher and outfielder. But it kind of just trickled down to being a pitcher. But being a year out of it, I miss it like crazy. I miss, really more than hitting, being in the outfield. Chasing down balls out there.”
WT: You think you’ll get a chance to hit this summer?
QA: "I hope so. I want to hopefully get an at-bat. I might just lay down a little bunt or something.”
WT: Last question, just tell the readers something about you.
QA: "I was actually a big football guy. I almost had a decision to make. I was a deep snapper, but also played safety. I talked to a couple of big schools about going there to deep snap. I could have had all my school paid for and gone to 20 minutes of practice. But baseball is really where my heart is.”
WT: What schools? And how hard was it to say no?
QA: "I talked with Boise State and Kentucky. It was tough, but I mean like I said I’ve always been a baseball guy. I didn’t want to just go, not that deep snapping isn’t important, I just didn’t want to go and just deep snap.”
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