George McQuinn, 68, a former major league baseball player who once hit safely in 34 consecutive games, died at Alexandria Hospital Sunday following a stroke.
Mr. McQuinn recalled that streak in an interview last summer when Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds was on the way to hitting safely in 44 straight.
"There really was no pressure on me," said Mr. McQuinn, who was born in the Ballston section of Arlington and who spent 12 years in the majors. The year was 1938, and he was playing with the old St. Louis Browns. "There wasn't all the hullabaloo back in those days," he said, "especially with the Browns."
He said there wasn't any fuss when his streak ended, either.
"The sad part was that I was in Philadelphia (to play against the Athletics), the last game before we were going to New York to play the Yankees," he continued.
"A New York paper sent a photographer down to Philly and he must have taken 50 pictures, from every possible angle, the whole works. So I went none for four and missed all that publicity - against a pitcher I always hit good, Buck Ross."
The hitting streak was only one aspect of a baseball career that had some remarkable moments. In 1944, Mr. McQuinn helped the Browns win their only American League pennant. He hit .438 in the World Series, which the Browns lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 1946, he was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics. At the end of that season, Connie Mack, the venerable manager of the A's, reportedly told him, "George, you played one year too long."
So Mr. McQuinn telephoned Bucky Harris, the manager of the New York Yankees. Harris later recalled that Mr. McQuinn opened the conversation by telling Harris how the Yanks could win the pennant in 1947.
"Naturally I asked how and he said, Sign me," Harris said.
"Now I know McQuinn, and have known him for several years, I figured if he had enough confidence in himself to come to me like that I couldn't lose trying him."
So Mr. McQuinn put on the pinstripes of the Yankees and became what the sports writers called the "baseball Cinderella story of the year." He hit .304 that season and helped the Yankees win a seven-games World Series from the Brooklyn Dodgers.
His average slipped to .248 in 1948 and the Yanks let him go. It was his last year as a major league player and he retired with a limetime average of .276.
After starring at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Mr. McQuinn broke into professional baseball at Wheeling, W. Va. He came up to the majors with the Cincinnati Reds in 1936, and moved to the St. Louis Browns in 1938.
He was a first baseman. He made up for his relative lack of size in that position - he was 5 feet 11 and weighed 165 - by his grace and agility. He had a reputation as a ball player who always was in shape.
Mr. McQuinn was a manager for minor league teams in Atlanta and elsewhere when his playing days were over. He later ran a sporting goods store in Arlington for several years. At the time of his death, he was in semiretirement as the manager of an aprtment building.
Last April, he was inducted into the Virginal sports Hall of Fame in Portsmouth.
Mr. McQuinn was a member of the Grandstand Managers Club in Alexandria and of the Touchdown Club.
Survivors include his wife, Kathleen, of the home in Alexandria; two daughters, Gina McQuinn, of Arlington, and Victoria Malsz, of Belgrade, Yugoslavia; two sisters, Olive Carter and Mary Armentrout, both of Annandale; two brothers, Charles, of Lakeland, Fla., and William, of McLean, and two grandchildren.
The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions in Mr. McQuinn's name to the Northern Virginia Heart Fund.