Tuesday, March 19, 2013
A baseball card mystery: Templeton and FoleyPosted by Bruce Markusen
This is Tom Foley’s 1985 Fleer card, but I find the baserunner, San Diego’s Garry Templeton, far more interesting as subject matter. Now the third base coach of the Rays, Foley was basically a utility player throughout his journeyman career, which included stops in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Montreal and Pittsburgh, while Templeton began his career as an immature star before becoming a respected clubhouse presence.
At one time, Templeton was one of the game’s finest players, a switch-hitting shortstop who could hit doubles, steal bases, and play well defensively at a challenging position. In 1979, he made history by becoming the first switch-hitter to collect 100-plus hits from each side of the plate.
It was the same year in which Templeton became embroiled in controversy. Despite a terrific first half, the fans failed to vote him a starter for the All-Star Game. Templeton was then selected as a backup, but that wasn’t good enough for the temperamental infielder, prompting his infamous outburst: “If I ain’t startin’, I ain’t departin’.” The statement was colorful and creative, but also hopelessly immature. Templeton indeed refused to depart for the All-Star Game, instead staying at home and drawing the wrath of millions of fans.
More controversy arrived in 1981, when Templeton decided not to run out a ground ball and drew boos from St. Louis fans. Templeton then compounded the situation by making an obscene gesture toward the hecklers. Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog was not pleased and promptly pulled his shortstop from the game. At season’s end, the Cardinals sent him to the Padres for future Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.
When Templeton retired in 1991, I expected him to leave the game completely. I was more than a little shocked when he decided to remain in baseball as a coach, and then as a minor league manager. He managed for four seasons in the Angels’ system before moving on to independent minor league ball. In January of this year, Templeton was named the manager of the Newark Bears of the Can-Am League. -
If odds had been given in the early 1980s, Templeton would have been regarded as one of the least likely to ever become a manager. But by the early 1990s, the transformation had been completed. Templeton, at one time the epitome of a spoiled star athlete, had shown himself to be an intelligent and reasoned baseball man.
Intelligence and reason often come into play in solving these baseball card mysteries, so let’s apply those qualities to this week’s question. We can see Templeton upending Tom Foley (not to be confused with Tim Foli), likely in a 1984 game. It’s an afternoon game, which must have taken place at San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium (as evidenced by Templeton’s home white uniform). It appears that Foley has recorded the out at second, as he then attempts to complete the double play relay to first base.
Can we pin this down to a specific game, and a specific inning? Does Foley complete the double play? Or is the unknown runner safe at first? Who will come up with the first answer?
Bruce Markusen is the author of seven books on baseball, including the award-winning A Baseball Dynasty: Charlie Finley’s Swingin’ A’s, the recipient of the Seymour Medal from the Society for American Baseball Research. He has also written The Team That Changed Baseball: Roberto Clemente and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates, Tales From The Mets Dugout, and The Orlando Cepeda Story.