Baseball was life to Rene Quinones – El Paso Times
Get to know this year’s El Paso Baseball Hall of Fame inductees.
Now that baseball is done, Rene Quinones can step back and appreciate all the joys the summer game gave him.
But there was a time in his life when that was a difficult task.
“I thought baseball was life,” the 47-year-old former pitcher said. “When it was over, I actually went into a state of depression.”
But it was a joyful baseball journey for Quinones — at Eastwood High, at Hutchinson (Kans.) Junior College, at the University of New Mexico and through several minor league seasons.
Quinones is one of five former El Paso baseball greats who will be inducted into the El Paso Baseball Hall of Fame at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13 at the Wyndham El Paso Airport Hotel..
We are so proud to add Rene to the Hall of Fame,” El Paso Baseball Hall of Fame president Leo Caraveo said. “He was so good in high school and in junior college and college and he went on into the pros and did well. He might have gone all the way if it weren’t for injury. He’s a quiet guy but a guy who gets it done. He created a lot of memories.”
And the memories are golden.
Quinones pitched on one of this city’s legendary teams — the 1987 Eastwood High team that featured future major league pitchers Frank Castillo and Butch Henry.
“I was a year behind them.” he said. “It was kind of hard because it would be Butch and Frank pitching most of the time. I got to pitch against Canutillo and Fabens and some of those teams. But it also brought me some attention.
“Butch was supposed to pitch against Canutillo and didn’t pitch that day,” he said. “I pitched, got 14 strikeouts and a complete game. They helped me come into my own. The next year I was all-district and all-city.”
Quinones, known as a crafty left-hander, had a special bond with the late Castillo.
“Frank was one of my biggest motivators and one of my biggest mentors … always,” Quinones said. “And it’s funny. The day I signed my first pro contract was the same day Frank got called up to the big leagues. We just grew up together; lived on the same block.”
And Quinones had his own special baseball journey.
“I went to Huitchinson Community College in Kansas,” he said. “First year was OK. The second year we went 28-3 and were ranked 10th in the nation. I had my heart set on going to the University of Arkansas. The coach called, asked me if I wanted to go to the University of Arkansas and I said, heck, yeah. We talked for about an hour.
“But they had a pitcher, Phil Stidham, who was a junior,” Quinones said. “Everyone thought he was going to sign a pro contract. I had turned down everyone — Missouri, Alabama, UAB, several others. I wanted to go to Arkansas. But the coach called me back and said Stidham didn’t sign and he didn’t have a spot for me.”
Quinones paused, shook his head.
“That tore my heart out,” he said. “I called everyone back and New Mexico said they might have a spot for me because they had a guy who hadn’t passed his SAT. They were able to take me and I had a great time there.”
And then he got that special opportunity, that opportunity to ink his name to a professional contract.
“Les Houser had scouted Eastwood and saw me pitch that game against Canutillo,” Quinones said. “He had kept me on his radar. He called me and asked if I wanted to play pro ball. He told me to meet him in Socorro, N.M., there around Elephant Butte. I met him there, signed with the Cincinnati Reds and the next day I was on a bus to Billings, Mont.”
Quinones said he got $2,000 to sign.
“It wasn’t about the money,” he said. “It was about the passion for the game, about the chance to play.”
He played on two championship teams in Class A baseball — one with Cedar Rapids and one with Winston Salem, both in High A ball. He pitched Rookie ball with Billings, Class A ball with Cedar Rapids and two years with Winston Salem.
And then his shoulder began to hurt.
“My shoulder got worse and the Reds dropped me,” he said. “I went to spring training with the (Kansas City) Royals but my shoulder was just gone. I took two years off and then came back to pitch for Amarillo in Independent baseball and we won the Texas-Louisiana League. But that was it. I was done.”
Baseball had been his life.
“Like I said, I thought baseball was life and I went into a depression when it was all done,” he said. “But then I realized the man upstairs has a plan for you. I accepted it. Got to make the best of it. And I’m good with that.”
He became an assistant coach at Scottsdale Community College for six years, then at Ranger Junior College for two years and coached a couple of years at El Paso Community College. He is currently a supervisor at UPS and gives private pitching lessons.
And he has found a new baseball passion.
“I watch my son, Addai, and it is like watching myself all over,” he said with a smile. “He’s eight and he’s just into coach pitch and it’s just like watching me all over.
“But baseball was very good to me,” he said. “It was fun and it was all about the opportunity to play, just that opportunity to have a chance. It was great.”
Quinones will take one more step next month in his baseball journey — a step into the joy and the memories and the celebration that is the El Paso Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bill Knight may be reached at 546-6171; firstname.lastname@example.org; @BilKnightept on Twitter.
Two 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees were accused of using steroids. Writers may be more accepting of those players.
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