- SS, 3B, 1B, OF, RF
- March 24, 1956
- 5' 11"
- 175 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 8-09-1976 with SLN
- Allstar Selections:
- 1980 SS, 1984 SS
"If I ain't startin', I ain't departin.' " That was the defiant quote from Cardinals shortstop Garry Templeton when he was informed he was a reserve on the National League All-Star team in 1978. His hubris was tolerated as long as he was putting up big numbers in St. Louis, but in 1981, Whitey Herzog shipped the controversial shortstop to the Padres for Ozzie Smith. Smith went on to become a legend in St. Louis, while Templeton spent ten solid seasons in a Padre uniform, but never realized his early potential. In his first few seasons with the Cards, Templeton had collected 200 hits twice (setting switch-hitting records in the process) and batted over .300 three times. In less condusive conditions in San Diego, Templeton never approached those numbers again, and seemed to sleepwalk through the remainder of his career. He did end up with more than 2,000 hits, but his career, which in his early 20s seemed destined for Cooperstown, was a disappointment.
He was hailed by many as one of the best players in baseball early in his career, which featured All-Star Game appearances in 1977 and 1979. In the latter year, Templeton made history as the first switch-hitter to collect 100 hits from each side of the plate, a feat achieved only once more since then. His total of 211 hits led the National League, and with 19 triples, he led the league for a third consecutive season. He caused some controversy in 1979 when, despite having better numbers than either Dave Concepción or Larry Bowa, two of the National League's premier shortstops at the time, he wasn't selected to start at shortstop for the National League All-Star team. He was named to the team as a reserve, but refused to go. In response, he made his now-infamous quote, "If I ain't startin', I ain't departin'!"
He continued to hit well in 1980 and 1981, but wasn't popular with Cardinals fans. During an August 26, 1981 home game in St. Louis, Templeton made an obscene gesture to some fans who had allegedly been heckling him. This proved to be too much for the Cardinals' management to accept, and manager Whitey Herzog pulled Templeton off the field, and after the end of the season traded him to the Padres for Ozzie Smith. The trade was welcomed by everyone involved, as Smith was (then) a light-hitting defensive wizard and the Cardinals needed to improve their defense. He was also embroiled in a contract dispute with Padres' management. Templeton, while not as strong afield, was a much better hitter going to a team with a struggling offense.
Unfortunately for Templeton and the Padres, Smith developed into a better hitter with the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Templeton played well enough to keep the starting shortstop job in San Diego for many years, but knee problems diminished his ability as a hitter. As a result, Templeton is unfairly maligned for being part of what was considered a lopsided trade.
Ironically, Templeton, who began his career as an unpopular player in St. Louis, went on to become one of the most popular players in Padres history, and was considered an emotional leader on the 1984 National League championship team. He was named team captain of the Padres by manager Larry Bowa in 1987, and assumed that role until he was traded to the New York Mets in 1991.
After his retirement as an active player in 1991, Templeton stayed in the game as a coach and minor-league manager. From 1998 through 2001, he managed in the Anaheim Angels organization for four different teams, posting a 294-272 record. From 2003 to 2004, he managed the Gary Railcats of the Northern League, moving on to manage the Golden Baseball League's Fullerton Flyers in 2005. After three years with the Flyers, he would move on to manage the Arizona Winter League's Palm Springs Chill in 2008, then would return to the GBL to manage the Long Beach Armada in 2009. In 2010, he was named manager of the GBL's Chico Outlaws.
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