When Gary Carter managed the Long Island Ducks, Jamie Quinn listened and learned.
As a player, Quinn,26, began his career with the Ducks in 2010 after stints with the Windy City Thunderbolts and the Capitals of the New York State League. He's also in his first year as assistant coach with Hofstra University. The Gary Carter mentality has become even more important in his coaching duties, especially after Carter died in February of brain cancer.
"We wear the #8 patch in honor of him. He was the utmost professional, hard-nosed and taught everyone how to go about their business," Quinn said Friday. "He'd tell the story so many times about Game Six with the '86 Mets. That he stood in the box thinking, 'I do not want to be a trivia question.' He got the bloop hit and the rest is history. That's a testament to his work ethic."
The Ducks (24-44) work ethic is being put to the test as they play the first round in the Atlantic League playoffs against the Southern Maryland BlueCrabs (39-31). They went into Friday's game needing just one game to advance, but Southern Maryland won 7-5. Long Island leads the best-of-five series 2-1.
The bullpen led the league in saves this year, something Quinn is proud of.
"I'd like to think I helped prepare them mentally and contributed to that."
He thinks this year's team has a better shot of winning the whole thing. But not because it was an easy road. There were times they needed a wake up call to improve as a team.
"We've gotten hot at the right moment. Last year's team didn't hit bottom until the championship. This year's team is more humble. We won the first half [Liberty Division] then hit rock bottom in the second half and we came to realize we had to step up our game," he said.
He credits the pitching of Matt Way, Randy Keisler, and Bob Zimmerman (2nd in the league in strikeouts) for helping get them where they are.
"Way has been phenomenal. He throws a lot of strikes. There's been limited scouting reports on him, so no one really knows about him. That's helped us. Keisler has kept us in games and been gutsy. He's a big game type of pitcher. Zimmerman has been our MVP in my opinion. He's been our workhorse."
Quinn also praises the bullpen, including Bobby Blevins Jr., saying, "They've been damn good."
He believes his closeness with the team has been helpful and that his age helps.
"I'm more like a player than a coach because I'm a younger guy. I hang out with them more and talk to them."
Quinn hung it up as a player, but the Ducks wanted to keep him around and asked him to be the bullpen coach. He keeps Carter's big hearted approach in his own heart at all times.
"He was the first to get your back. I was the low guy on the totem pole and he took time with me. He was there for everybody."
The Ducks will face the Blue Crabs Saturday night and try to wrap it up.
"Hopefully, we can go home and rest for a couple of days, come back and get a ring."