From time to time here at Friars on Base we like to take a look back at former players and recognize them as important members of the San Diego Padres organization. Though these players have played their final game, they are never forgotten by the Friar Faithful.
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Today we are taking a look at the 17-year career of former Padres great, shortstop Garry Templeton. He played a total of 10 seasons with the Padres from 1981-1991. Totaling over 4,500 at bats. That is a rare thing in baseball, for a player to have a tenure that long with the same team. Padres fans are spoiled because they had the great one Tony Gwynn his whole 19 year career. 10 years with one team is still impressive by itself.
Drafted by the St Louis Cardinals in the first round (13th pick) of the 1975 draft. It only took Templeton two years to reach the majors as he made his professional debut on August 9, 1976. He ended up hitting .291 that year in 213 at bats. Very impressive for a 20-year old.
In his six seasons in Cardinal red, Templeton hit .305 and slugged 25 home runs and had driven in 281. He was regarded as an offensive shortstop in a time where the position traditionally offered nothing.
He is probably most commonly known for his comments about not showing up to play 1979 All Star game (which he was elected as a reserve). He had better numbers than Dave Concepcion and Larry Bowa who were elected as starters. Templeton openly stated: “If I ain’t startin. I ain’t departin”. He did not play that year in the All-Star game, and was only elected to one more Mid-Season Classic. (1985 with Padres).
December 10, 1981 the St Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres agreed on a six player trade. The Padres traded defensive wizard Ozzie Smith, Al Olmsted and Steve Mura to the Cardinals for offensive shortstop Garry Templeton, Sixto Lezcano and Luis DeLeon. The centerpieces of the deal would be Ozzie Smith and Garry Templeton obviously. Though Lezcano was viewed as a decent prospect at the time.
The Padres were in the middle of a contract dispute with Ozzie Smith and were growing tired of him wanting more money. Templeton had worn out his welcome in St Louis after saluting fans in the stands with a rude gesture (after not running out a ground ball) in late August 1981. The Cardinals management had grown tired of his antics and bad attitude.
As a Padre, Templeton never really displayed that prolific bat. He was still an above average hitting shortstop, but never once hit .300 as a Padre. His best season was 1985 when he hit .282 with 6 home runs, 55 runs batted in and 16 stolen bases in 148 games. He was named team captain in 1987, by then manager Larry Bowa and remained captain until he was traded in 1991.
He also never really displayed that bad attitude that plagued him in St Louis. He for the most part was relatively drama free. Knee problems kept him from truly showing his great athleticism on a nightly bases. He played in 141 games or more in seven out of his 10 years, though in the later years he never really seemed healthy.
Garry “Tempy” Templeton was beloved by the fans because of his hard nose attitude and the offensive presence he provided in the lineup. A switch hitting shortstop with a decent bat, is what I will always remember. The confidence he brought to the team, also comes to mind.
Templeton showed flashes of dominance, but in the end he never hit like he did for the Red Birds. Padres fans still loved him though. Even when he was dealt to the New York Mets for Tim Teufel on May 31, 1991. Templeton finished out the year with the Mets, but retired at the end of the season at age 36.
Garry Templeton amassed 4,512 at bats as a Padre with a .252/.325/.418 batting line. He totaled 43 home runs and drove in 427 runners with 101 stolen bases. The numbers really don’t speak justice, as that was a different era of the game. He was truly a solid shortstop for that time.
He wasn’t fantastic by any means, but he was our starting shortstop for 10 straight years. For 10 years, Padres fans had comfort in knowing “Tempy” was there. Padres fans long for that comfort with the modern team. Hopefully one day, the San Diego Padres will be lucky enough to have a Garry Templeton plug the shortstop hole for 10 years. Lucky indeed.
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