Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 1981: Templeton Flies The Bird

On August 26, 1981, Garry Templeton was fined $5,000 and suspended indefinitely by Cardinals skipper Whitey Herzog for making obscene gestures towards the fans at Busch. The trouble for Templeton started before the game against San Fran even started. He had told Whitey Herzog that he was too tired to play but the skipper put him in the lineup against his wishes. Templeton responded with a halfhearted effort that not only angered the fans but got under the manager's skin as well.  The real trouble began in the bottom of the first, Templeton struck out but the ball got past Giants catcher Milt May and he jogged down the baseline staring toward the Cardinal dugout rather than try and reach base. As he jogged the boos rang out and then Templeton to give the crowd an ole one finger salute. Umpire Bruce Froemming warned the shortstop after the incident which did not stop him from doing it again.  Before the fourth inning started Froemming tossed the embattled Templeton from the game. As Templeton jogged toward the dugout he made more obscene gestures toward the crowds and Herzog blew a friggin gasket. The skipper yanked him into the dugout and tossed him against the wall while telling him to get the hell out of there. Players and coaches had to break up the melee while Herzog screamed "I don't want you on the road trip. I don't want you around my players. I don't want to see you. You make $690,000 and you make an ass out of yourself. I don;t need that, and my players don't need that." The big story of the game should have been an 8 run outburst in the fifth inning that led to a  9-4 Cardinals victory, instead all the focus went toward one disgruntled player who failed to control his emotions. A day after the incident Templeton agreed to seek psychiatric help and was diagnosed and treated for depression. He returned to the Cardinals lineup in mid September, but his absence had hurt the club and they failed to make the playoffs. It was an unfortunate incident that Templeton has carried with him throughout his life, it is something he does not liked to be remembered for but unfortunately it is a moment in time he can't take back. Templeton wore the Birds on the Bat for a total of six years, in those six years he was selected to two All Star games, hit .305 and was one of the better hitting shortstops in the game which also led to a Silver Slugger Award in 1980. After the incident that led him to being traded to San Diego he went onto have a solid career with the Padres which included a second Silver Slugger Award and another All Star selection. After his playing career ended he managed a variety of minor league clubs and is currently the manager of the Newark Bears on the independent Can-Am league. In my eyes time heals all wounds and I have no disdain for Garry Templeton, while I think it's unfortunate for him to be remembered in such a way it was his own doing that made that memory. In the end it worked out quite well for the Cardinals, it makes me wonder if Ozzie would have found his way to St. Louis if Templeton wouldn't have reacted so poorly on that late August day in 1981. All I know is I'm glad it worked out the way it did, Ozzie became a legend while Templeton became another name from the past.

Wish I had the video, check out the box score:

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