Cardinals Where Have You Gone? – Garry Templeton

Birdhouse readers selected the ex-players from Rob Rains' new book Cardinals Where Have You Gone? to be featured for a seven-week period.

Editor's note: As selected by you, the Birdhouse readers, this is the sixth highest-voted and therefore, sixth installment of Rob Rains' new book, Cardinals Where Have You Gone? to be featured at The Birdhouse. One more player story will be published here next Friday exclusively for Birdhouse subscribers, so join now!

The schedule:
May 6 Ted Simmons
May 13 Vince Coleman
May 20 John Tudor
May 27 Ernie Broglio
June 3 Tom Pagnozzi
June 17 Todd Worrell

Purchase Cardinals Where Have You Gone? from your local independent bookstore, the major chains such as Borders and Barnes and Noble, or from the publisher, for just $19.95. With Father's Day coming, what better gift could one select for their special Cardinals fan Dad? – Brian Walton

There was no question Garry Templeton was an extremely talented player. He led the Cardinals in hits for three consecutive years from 1977 to 1979, including a league-leading total of 211 in 1979. He became one of the few switch-hitters in history to record 100 or more hits from each side of the plate in the same season. He led the team in triples for four consecutive years, three times leading the league, and even had two years in which he led the Cardinals in stolen bases.

Templeton was a two-time All-Star with the Cardinals, but despite all of that talent, Manager Whitey Herzog was convinced he was not a player he wanted to build his team around. When he had the chance to trade Templeton to the Padres for Ozzie Smith he jumped on the deal, not even imagining that Smith would turn out to be a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest shortstops in history.

Herzog valued Templeton as a very good player, and since he was trading a shortstop, he needed to obtain a shortstop in return. The only other shortstops he considered near equals of Templeton were Smith, Rick Burleson of the Red Sox, Alan Trammell of the Tigers and Ivan DeJesus of the Cubs. When he learned that Burleson, Trammell and DeJesus were not available, he set his sights on Smith, who had experienced his own run-ins with management in San Diego. The deal was struck to send Templeton, Sixto Lezcano and a player to be named later to the Padres for Smith, Steve Mura and a player to be named later.

Most of the Cardinals fans who remember the Garry Templeton who left St. Louis after his very public meltdown in 1981 would be surprised to know that he has been managing in the minor leagues for six of the past seven years.

Templeton himself finds that a little surprising—for a different reason.

Templeton believes he could be an effective manager in the major leagues if he were given that opportunity. He doubts if it will ever happen, however, and he is probably right. Instead of working in a major league stadium, Templeton spent the past two seasons managing the Southshore RailCats, a team from Gary, Indiana, that plays in the independent Northern League. While the league is doing well financially with new, elaborate stadiums and increasing attendance, the league is not traditionally a steppingstone for managers aiming for a higher level.

There were three former major league managers working in the Northern League in 2004, but none of the three—Tim Johnson in Lincoln, Doc Edwards in Sioux Falls or Hal Lanier in Winnipeg—is likely to manage at that level again in the future.

Templeton especially is going to have trouble finding a team willing to invest in him after his struggles of the past two years. The RailCats were the worst team in the league in 2004, finishing with a 31-65 record, and for his two seasons in Gary, Templeton's teams had a combined record of 67-119.

Prior to moving to Gary, Templeton spent four years managing in the Anaheim Angels farm system, between 1998 and 2001, including two years in Triple-A. Many of the players who were part of the Angels' world championship team in 2002 played for Templeton at some point in the minor leagues.

Templeton said he left the Angels when the team made a change in its player development front office. After spending a year out of baseball, he was excited about the chance to manage in Gary.

It turned out to be a harder assignment than he expected, however, because of the level of baseball, and because with an independent team, the manager also has to play a role in acquiring players, not just managing them.

"When you are working for an organization you can teach kids and work with them and let them grow," Templeton said. "Here the only thing that counts is winning. I'm more of a teacher. That is what I consider my strength. I have more fun working with the younger kids."

Many of the players Templeton is working with, or has worked with in the past, probably don't remember him as a player. If they do, it most certainly would be for his years in San Diego, not his years in St. Louis.

Templeton is one of the minority of players who does not look back too fondly on his years in St. Louis. He declines to discuss much of what happened with the Cardinals, except for the biggest regret he says he has about his playing career.

"I should never have let them talk me into becoming a switch-hitter," Templeton said. "I should have been a right-handed hitter my entire career. I think I could have achieved more."

As far as his personal problems that existed with the Cardinals, including his Ladies Day display at Busch Stadium, where he made a series of obscene gestures to the crowd and had to be pulled into the dugout by Herzog, all Templeton will say is "I was young and made some mistakes."

The 48-year-old Templeton, who now has a great deal of gray in his hair color, had a good career with San Diego, but believes he never was as good as he could have been because of seven operations on his left knee, which robbed him of much of his speed on offense and his range on defense.

One of Templeton's two sons played in the Northern League in 2003. He has anther son and two daughters, ranging in age from 19 to 30.

Despite not returning to Gary for the 2005 season, Templeton still sees his future in baseball.

"I think I have a lot to offer kids," Templeton said. "I knew going to Gary was going to be a challenge, and it just didn't work out."

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