30th anniversary: Garry Templeton’s one-finger salute

Thirty years ago today, one of the era’s most infamous moments of player misbehaver occurred—Garry Templeton gave the fans in St. Louis the finger.

St. Louis’ shortstop gave the 7,766 fans at Busch Stadium the gesture, and umpire Bruce Froemming issued Templeton a warning. Templeton didn’t back down, and gave another obscene gesture, earning an ejection to begin the fourth inning.

The fun was just beginning.

As Templeton went back to the dugout, manager Whitey Herzog pulled him down the steps and backed him against the wall. Players on the team had to separate them. Herzog ordered Templeton to wait in the dugout, but Templeton had other ideas. Ten minutes later, he left the stadium with a suitcase full of clothes (the Cards were supposed to fly to the West Coast after the game). He was gone.

The team suspended him and fined him $5,000. The Cardinals ordered Templeton to undergo a psychiatric examination. This sounds like a modern day Carlos Zambrano meltdown. In fact, it sounds like all of them rolled into one.

Herzog told reporters Templeton had more talent than any player he’d ever seen, but that he had serious emotional issues.

This was the low point of Templeton’s career arc. A few years earlier, he was the game’s latest sensation. At age 20, he broke into the big leagues. At age 21, he batted .322 with a league-leading 18 triples. It was the first of two 200-hit seasons in a three-season span, and the first of three consecutive triples titles.

But in his mid-20s, he began to decline. He batted .319 at age 24, but with only nine triples. Well, he had 31 stolen bases, so he still had some speed. Also, Templeton had some personality controversies that predated this incident—accusations of indifferent play, threats to quit the game, and similar boorish actions.

Then came 1981. At age 25, Templeton seemed to forget how to play. At the time of his one-finger salute to St. Louis, he was hitting .261 with six stolen bases in 16 attempts. He never had any power or ability to draw walks, so the one-time phenom was largely useless on offense.

Templeton returned to action 20 days later, and went 4-for-5 in his return. He hit .369 down the stretch, making him a trade-able commodity, and trade him the Cardinals did. Templeton went to San Diego in a challenge trade for fellow young shortstop Ozzie Smith. Safe to say, the Cardinals won that challenge. The defensively superlative Smith improved his hitting and ended up in Cooperstown.

Templeton never lived up to his old promise, but he did play well enough to keep a starting job for a decade. Whatever emotional problems he’d had in St. Louis faded into the background as well.

The incident remains a signature moment in Herzog’s career: He wasn’t going to tolerate a player misbehaving, even a young star player. While it was the ump who ran Templeton, Herzog was the one who confronted him, suspended him, and then later traded him.

Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary of “day-versary” (which is an event occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold.

Day-versaries

4,000 days since Chipper Jones endures his worst WPA game: 0-for-5 with a K in a 5-4 Atlanta loss to Florida for a –0.446 WPA.

4,000 days since Joe Crede makes his big league debut.

4,000 days since Dave Hansen of the Dodger belts his record seventh pinch-hit home run of the year (but LA loses anyway, 5-4 to Arizona).

7,000 days since Padres shortstop Tony Fernandez does the near impossible: gets thrown out trying to steal twice in one inning. He’ll be 20-for-40 in steal attempts on the year, the worst for anyone with at least 20 swipes since 1923.

10,000 days since Jack Morris tosses a no-hitter.

10,000 days since the big league debut of Dwight Gooden. In fact, Mark Langston also debuts on that day.

15,000 days since Willie Stargell enjoys perhaps his best game. He hits three doubles and a pair of homers for his only game with five extra base hits. It’s also his only time scoring five runs in a game. He drives in a half-dozen runs as Pittsburgh dismantles the Braves, 20-10.

30,000 days since Hack Wilson homers in his fifth consecutive game. He’s 11-for-20 with two doubles and six homers in that span.

Anniversaries

1873 Chick Fraser, pitcher, is born.

1884 Dick Burns, pitcher with an unfortunate name, tosses a no-hitter, winning 3-1.

1891 An 18-year-old John McGraw makes his big league debut as an infielder.

1894 Sparky Adams, infielder, is born.

1909 Negro League second baseman William Bedford dies at age 23 after being hit by a bolt of lightening while playing a game.

1910 A Pirates-Dodgesr game results in exactly one outfield putout all day long.

1912 The Browns beat the Senators to end Walter Johnson’s winning streak at 16 games. Johnson pitches in relief, allowing two inherited runners to score to decide the game. Under modern rules he wouldn’t get the decision, but under the rules of the era he does.

1914 Negro League pitcher Frank Wickware of the Chicago American Giants tosses a no-hitter versus the Indianapolis ABC. He walks the leadoff batter, who is then caught stealing, and then retires the next 26 men in order to win 1-0.

1916 Bullet Joe Bush throws a no-hitter, leading the A’s to a 5-0 win over Cleveland. In that same game, future Hall of Famer Nap Lajoie last plays in the big league.

1918 Both the White Sox and Yankees claim Pacific Coast League pitching star Jack Quinn, but the Yankees will receive him by the decision of league president Ban Johnson. White Sox owner Charles Comiskey will never forgive Johnson for this.

1919 Eddie Collins belts the only extra-inning home run of his career, a 10th inning blast against the Browns.

1922 Rogers Hornsby collects his 100th triple.

1923 Ty Cobb hits his 46th and final inside the park home run.

1926 Paul Waner gets six hits in a game, including two doubles and a triple, yet scores only one run.

1927 The Brooklyn Dodgers acquire catcher Al Lopez from Jacksonville in the Southeastern League for $10,000.

1929 Abraham Mills, NL president from 1883-84 and author of the original reserve clause, dies at age 84.

1929 Norm McMillan of the Cubs hits the rare inside-the-jacket home run. He hits one down the left field line at Wrigley, and it bounces off a gutter and lands in the jacket of a relief pitcher.

1932 Carl Hubbell homers off Dizzy Dean. It’s the first of four homers for Hubbell.

1935 Zeke Bonura steals home in the 15th inning, giving the White Sox a 9-8 win over the Yankees.

1936 Eventual 200 game winner Paul Derringer loses his 100th decision, giving him a record of 87-100 at the moment.

1938 Jimmie Foxx gets his 2,000th career hit in only his 1,673th game.

1938 19-year-old Bob Feller allows 15 earned runs in a game, something no one has done since. His line: 7 IP, 15 H, 15 R, 15 ER, 9 BB, 7 K for a Game Score of –15.

1939 It’s the first televised big league game. The Dodgers play the Reds, with Red Barber calling it for the 400 TV sets in New York City watching it.

1939 Johnny Mize draws four walks in a game for the only time in his career.

1941 Bill McKechnie becomes the fourth manager to win 1,500 games. His record: 1,500-1,321.

1946 When Ted Williams faces the Boudreau Shift, three-foot-tall Marco Songini runs on the field to occupy the empty third base position before umps chase him all.

1947 Dan Bankhead makes his big league debut, becoming the game’s first black pitcher. He also homers in his first at-bat—the first NL pitcher to ever do that (Fritz Ostermueller did it previously in the AL). In that same game, Ralph Kiner enjoys his only 5-for-5 performance as the Dodgers play the Pirates.

1947 St. Louis holds “Yogi Berra Night” on behalf of the local boy who just joined the Yankees. Berra begins the festivities by saying “I want to thank all you people for making this night necessary.” Yeah, that’s Berra all right.

1948 Cubs fans litter the field with debris for 20 minutes after umpire Jocko Conlan calls a Phil Cavaretta shot a ground rule double instead of a home run in a Cubs-Braves doubleheader.

1949 In the Appalachian League, the Bluefield Blue Jays’ 34-game winning streak ends.

1949 The Florida International League fines Pepper Martin $100 and suspends him for the year for choking an umpire. The punishment sounds rather light.

1950 Roy Campanella belts three home runs in one game.

1952 For the second game in a row, a Pirates prospect tosses a no-hitter. Today it’s Frank Ramsey, one day after teammate Bill Bell had one for their Bristol team. Bristol has five no-hitters on the year, including three by Bell.

1953Dusty Rhodes enters the day hitting .167 for the Giants, but hits three homers. Take heart Adam Dunn, take heart.

1955 Vic Wertz is stricken with polio, but he’ll return to baseball next year.

1956 At age 36, Early Wynn steals his only base.

1958 Lew Burdette wins his 100th game for a 100-66 record.

1959 It’s Al Smith Night at Comiskey Park. Bill Veeck dreamed up the promotion to help Smith gain support with Chicago fans, who have had a problem with him because the Sox traded Minnie Minoso to get him. Under the promotion, 5,253 Smiths enter the park for free and sit by Smith in right. However, Smith has one of his worst games ever, hitting into a double play, fannin, and committing an error. His fellow Smiths loudly boo him.

1960 Yogi Berra belts a walk-off home run, giving him at least one such blast in three different decades. It’s the seventh and last walk-off of his career.

1961 Frank Robinson connects for his 200th home run.

1962 Minnesota’s Jack Kralick tosses a no-hitter against the A’s and nearly has a perfect game. He retires the first 25 batters only to walk pinch-hitter George Alusik. (Random fact: future Kansas City Royals manager Dick Howser then pinch runs for Alusik). That’s the only base runner: Minnesota wins 1-0.

1964 Willie Mays plays third base for the only time in his career. After Mays starts the day in his normal center field slot, he plays nearly six full innings at third, handling one chance.

1966 Cubs manager Leo Durocher is so infuriated by an Astrodome scoreboard cartoon lampooning him he rips the dugout phone from the wall and hurls it onto the playing field.

1966 Mickey Mantle hits a walk-off, pinch-hit, two-run homer for a 6-5 Yankee win over the Tigers. Of his 12 walk-off shots, this is his only pinch-hit one.

1968 Major league baseball features seven shutouts, tying a record that will be topped in 1972.

1968 San Francisco’s Gaylord Perry nearly throws a perfect game against the Cubs, allowing only a seventh-inning single by Glenn Beckert.

1968 It’s a good day for the Perry brothers all around, as Jim Perry has the best Game Score of his career: 91. His line: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, but it’s a no-decision as his team loses 1-0 in extra innings.

1969 Tom Seaver records his 50th career win.

1970 Star pitcher from the 1920s Eddie Rommel dies.

1970 For the only time in his career, Roberto Clemente ends a game by fanning with the bases loaded. The Expos prevail over Pittsburgh, 2-1.

1972 Ron Santo joins the 2,000 hit club in style: 4-for-5 with two home runs, two runs and four RBI. Meanwhile, teammate Billy Williams has his best WPA game: 0.679 WPA by going 5-for-6 with two homers, two runs, and four RBIs in Chicago’s 10-9 win over the Giants.

1972 Leo Durocher becomes manager of the Astros.

1973 Paul Blair gets an inside the park home run when Amos Otis and Steve Hovley collide in midair trying to catch the ball.

1975 The first eight Pirates all hit safely in a game versus the Braves, tying a record set just three weeks earlier by the Phillies. The Pirates win, 8-2.

1975 A Cardinals win pushes Red Schoendienst’s career managerial record 113 games over .500, his all-time best (927-814).

1975 Morgan Ensberg is born.

1977 Tom Seaver wins despite allowing a career-worst eight walks in one game.

1977 Robin Yount suffers through his worst WPA game. He’s 0-for-4 with a GIDP and a strikeout in Milwaukee’s 4-2 loss to the White Sox for a WPA of –0.488.

1980 Burnt out phenom Steve Busby last pitches in a baseball game.

1980 The Padres give out six intentional walks to the Mets, who give four to San Diego. The 10 are one shy of the record, set in 1955. The Padres win, 8-6.

1985 Eddie Murray belts three homers in a game for a career-high nine RBI.

1987 The Reds trade Bill Gullickson to the Yankees for Dennis Rasmussen.

1987 Paul Molitor’s hitting streak ends at 39 games, as the Brewers win 1-0 over the Indians in 10 innings. Milwaukee starter Teddy Higuera has a Game Score of 94 for his complete game shutout and Indians starter John Farrell has a Game Score of 86 for his nine innings (in which he allowed only three hits).

1988 The Angels release Donnie Moore.

1989 For the fifth time in his career, Dave Stieb tosses a complete game one-hitter, the hit being a Robin Yount single with two outs in the sixth. Stieb has zero no-hitters so far in his career, but he’ll get one eventually.

1990 Bo Jackson comes off the DL and homers in the first pitch he sees. It’s his fourth consecutive home run, tying a baseball record. The pitcher is a young Randy Johnson.

1991 The Braves win, putting Bobby Cox’s career record over .500 (729-728) where it has been ever since.

1991 Bret Saberhagen pitches a no-hitter, beating the White Sox, 7-0.

1991 Amateur draft pick Brien Taylor signs a record $1.55 million contract with the Yankees.

1992 Baseball has its first knuckler-vs-knuckler game since 1982, as Tom Candiotti faces Tim Wakefield.

1993 The Mets announce that Vince Coleman will remain on “administrative leave” for the rest of the season.

1993 Wade Boggs gets his first sacrifice hit since June 6, 1987.

1995 Greg Maddux ties a record held by Denny McLain, Cal McLish and Richard Dotson by winning his 16th straight road decision.

1996 The Mets fire Dallas Green and replace him with Bobby Valentine.

1997 Johnny Oates manages his 1,000th game (517-482).

1999 Jeff Kent gets his 1,000th hit. In a nice bit of symmetry, it’s his 1,000th game.

1999 Vladimir Guerrero’s hitting streak peaks at 31 consecutive games. He hit .386/.431/.756 during it with 12 doubles, a triple and 11 home runs.

2002 Baseball has its first video streaming coverage, as 30,000 see the Yankees top the Rangers, 10-3.

2002 Joe Torre manages his 3,000th game. He’s 1,557-1438 for his career.

2002 Manny Ramirez belts his 300th home run.

2003 The Padres trade Oliver Perez and Jason Bay to the Pirates for Brian Giles. There are a few other players involved in the trade as well.

2004 Billy Koch plays in his last big league game.

2007 Houston retires Jeff Bagwell’s number.

2007 At age 44 years old and a supposed weight of 248 pounds, David Wells beats out a bunt for an infield single against the Mets and their pitcher, John Maine.

2008 Carlos Zambrano gets a hit in his 13th straight game, tying Johnny Sain for the longest hitting streak by a pitcher since 1924 (when Wilbur Cooper went 16 straight games).

2009 Three home plate umps sees duty in a Blue Jays Rays game. Jerry Crawford is struck by a foul tip, and Tom Hallion is hit by a fastball. Brian O’Nara completes the game without further incident.

2010 Albert Pujols belts his 400th home run despite being intentionally walked three times.

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