Triples. We all love it when a player can get to the elusive third base on a hit. (The only thing better is an inside-the-park home run, which you can read about in my Willie Wilson article in Zisk # 12). I’m not sure who has the record for the most triples in a season and to be honest I’m too lazy to look it up [Editor’s note: we’re not that lazy, it’s Pittsburgh Pirate Chief Wilson with 36 in 1912] but Garry “Jumpsteady” Templeton had 50 in three seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals from the years 1977-1979 (18 in 1977, 13 in 1978 and 19 in 1979). It might not seem like a big deal now but it sure was back then. Wait a minute—it is a big deal even now. Heck, in a recent interview Garry called the triple, “The most exciting play in baseball.” Just for the record Templeton is 137th on the all-time triples list with 106. The all-time leader is Sam Crawford with 312. Most of the 158 players in the list are old timers so for more modern day players Templeton’s triples numbers are quite impressive.
Garry Lewis Templeton was born in Lockney, Texas on March 24th, 1956. He made his MLB debut on August 9th, 1976 as a shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals and from the get go this guy had some serious wheels. He was the first switch hitter to have 100 hits from each side of the plate and made the all star team in 1977 and 1979. He gained some notoriety in 1979 when, despite have better numbers than the two other N.L. shortstops, Larry Bowa and Dave Concepcion, Templeton was not selected to start the game and made his now famous quote, “If I ain’t startin’, I ain’t departin'.”
The middle finger. Things seemed to be going well for Templeton even into the 1980s though an incident on August 26th, 1981 soured the man in the minds and hearts of the Cardinals. Apparently during the game some guys had been heckling Templeton so at one point during the game he came out and flipped off the hecklers (at least one account says it was a crotch grab and not a one finger salute). Manager Whitey Herzog took him out of the game. At the end of the season Templeton was traded to the San Diego Padres for Ozzie Smith, a trade that excited players and fans for both teams. Though a knee injury slowed him down in San Diego he was one of the most popular players on the Padres and was team captain from 1984 on. He played with the Padres until 1990 and then was traded to the NY Mets for the 1991 season before calling it a day.
These days Templeton is manager for the Long Beach Armada of the Golden League. His stats probably will not get him the nod to Cooperstown but when some young buck approaches you and starts telling you about some Johnny Come Lately who hit double digits for triples in a season then say one word to them, “Jumpsteady.”
Tim Hinely has been a Pittsburgh Pirates fan for as long as he can remember (he claims he once saw Honus Wagner play in person) and he has been publishing his own zine, DAGGER, for nearly as long. Check it out at www.daggerzine.com.