Recently, I had the fantastic opportunity to interview the Garry Templeton, the Manager of the Long Beach Armada of the Golden League. Most of you will remember Templeton as the star shortstop on the Cardinals in the late 70s and the Captain of the pennant winning 1984 San Diego Padres. The interview focused primarily on Templeton's experience in the Golden League as well as his time as a player in the majors.
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Jorge Says No! Interview With Garry Templeton
Jorge Says No!: How is the season going so far?
Garry Templeton: Season is going real well. Just came back off the Canada swing. We finished .500 so I thought that turned out pretty well to start out the season.
Jorge Says No!: Why did you decide to become a manager?
Garry Templeton: I just like working with young men. I like to see guys get better and in the Independent League, you get a chance to pick out your talent that you want and you get a chance to see guys grow and then develop into ballplayers. Some of them move on with other organizations so you know that's why I keep coming back and I get a chance to keep helping these young guys.
Jorge Says No!: One thing that caught my eye about to your roster is that you have two guys in Lima and Irabu that have been in the majors before, but a majority of your roster has never been to the show. Do you think that alot of the other guys, including Lima and Irabu, want to get back to the majors or are they simply playing for the love of the game?
Garry Templeton: Well, you know, I haven't been around Irabu much yet, but Lima really wants to get back into the game. I believe that Lima can still help somebody out. He knows how to pitch. He doesn't throw in the mid 90s like he used to, but he pitches awful well. He pitched two complete games for me so far and he just absolutely showed that he knows how to pitch without a 90 MPH fastball. It's more like 88-90 now. He mixes his pitches and Lima can help somebody somewhere-whether it's AAA or in the big leagues-he can go help an organization.
Jorge Says No!: That would be great if he was actually able to come back at some point this season. There are so many teams out there looking for starting pitching. It would be a great thrill to see Lima Time back out there.
Garry Templeton: Well, I tell ya, Lima Time could help people. He's so positive and he's been such a great influence on the kids where Irabu has been getting in shape and I'll see him pitch for the first time this weekend. I'll see him Saturday.
Jorge Says No!: I'm sure that'll be really exciting.
Garry Templeton: I'll see him trying to pitch, but I heard he's in tremendous shape, put on the ball well. And you know, I think he might want to get back in too because somebody told me-a couple of players told me-that he was gettin 92.
Jorge Says No!: Wow. He hasn't pitched in a long time now. Too be hitting 92 is pretty impressive.
Garry Templeton: Right, you know, that's what I'm saying. They said that he pitched this weekend and he threw 5 complete innings, 1 hit in a men's league...a pretty good men's league up in Pasadena.
Jorge Says No!: That must've been a thrill for those guys to face Irabu!
Garry Templeton: Yeah, to me, that's pretty awesome.
Jorge Says No!: And how about the other guys on the team, do you think they're still playing hoping to latch on with an organization or are they playing for the love of the game?
Garry Templeton: Well, my team is pretty young. I think the average age on the team is right around 25. I find a bunch of guys that you know just got out of A ball and I found some that have been released from AA. So I still have a team full of guys that could go back and sign with a organization and have an opportunity. As a matter of fact, I got a couple of guys that organizations could look at and I feel that they could go back and pitch for them. So my team is fairly young, I don't have a lot of the older guys. I got Irabu and Lima and everyone else is right around the 25 mark.
Jorge Says No!: I know you have managed in the past in the Angels organization. You've had guys like John Lackey, David Eckstein, and Scot Shields. Is it a big thrill to see these guys in the majors and performing well?
Garry Templeton: You know what? It's always a good feeling when you manage young men and you know, they are still competing at the highest level. So you know that you did something right with those young men. And I knew that those guys could compete at the highest level anyway cause when you see young men play and they're at AAA you know whether they can compete at the highest level. And those guys, I knew that they could compete at that level because they had it in them and you could see it in them and they were determined to get to that level; and boy, it's a great feeling, at some point you've had anybody get to that level and you know, regardless of whether they stay or not, it's always a good feeling.
Jorge Says No!: For you personally, do you want to manage or coach in the major leagues?
Garry Templeton: Well, you know, if the opportunity presents itself, I would do it. I mean, I would do it, anybody would do it, they don't pass up that opportunity. But you know, if this never happens, I'm not going to be sad. I don't feel bad about it, even though I know I can help at the major league level or at any level). But I'm not gonna sit back and be mad at anybody. It's just that, hey, it just wasn't my time or I just wasn't given the opportunity. But I have an opportunity to work with these guys in Independent ball, so I'll make the most of that.
Jorge Says No!: You've played for some of the best managers in the game, is there one manager that you base your managing style around?
Garry Templeton: I always try to base my managing style around Dick Williams because he was such a big influence on my when I went over to San Diego and pretty much Dick managed and he was a teacher at the same time, which you do not see anymore at the major league level. I think that Joe Torre does a lot of it, that's the reason why he gets so much out of his young players. But alot of managers don't do that anymore. Dick would basically teach you how to play and play to win, so I kind of took what he was offering back then and I try to put it use now. Because these kids want information, they're starving for information, so I give them whatever I got to give. At the same time, I'm trying to manage and teach them at the same time and even though I'm in a situation where I have to win, I'm still trying to teach as much as possible.
Alot of people didn't appreciate Dick until after he left -the work that he did, the things that he taught- so I try to do the same thing.
Jorge Says No!: Is there anything in particular that drew you to the Golden League?
Garry Templeton: The one thing about the Golden Baseball League is that it's really competitive. If you come and watch the GBL games, you'll see that every lineup in the league is probably close to AA. I mean, the lineups are really tough. Unexperienced guys in the lineup, guys that played, and you know it's so competitive. And that's what you want. You want your guys to be really competitive and your guys are going to try and get better and compete against some of the best players. And there's some really good players here. Good pitchers, catchers; it's all around. The Golden Baseball League has a good collection of players. I'll give you an example: I had a catcher that caught three years in the Milwaukee organization and he told me, "you know, there's lineups in this league that are better than AA lineups in AA."
Jorge Says No!: Do you ever see any scouts at your games?
Garry Templeton: Oh yeah, we get scouts at all our games. We get lots of scouts.
AND NOW, SOME FINAL QUESTIONS ABOUT MR. TEMPLETON'S PLAYING CAREER
Jorge Says No!: How does it feel to be traded?
Garry Templeton: You know, at the time I got traded I think I needed the trade. It wasn't that bad because I was getting traded close to home and I felt real good about it and having my family watch me play more and not just seeing me on the game of the week. So, it's tough because you leave alot of friends behind, but you gotta look at it the other way- I was coming home to family.
Jorge Says No!: Who was the strangest player you ever played with?
Garry Templeton: The strangest player! Probably Bill Lee! He was a strange character.
Jorge Says No!: And of course, your speed is legendary. In the prime of your career, people raved about how quick you were running to first base, all the triples you hit, and all the bases you stole? Just how fast were you? And what current player would you compare yourself too?
Garry Templeton: You know, I don't know because I really don't see alot of fast guys in baseball anymore. So it's hard for me to compare myself when some of the guys that are playing today-I would hit a ball to shortstop and beat it out. You don't see guys like that running anymore. You don't see organizations draft guys that can run because when I played, there were a ton of guys that could run. I mean, guys could flat out get down to first base in a heartbeat, but you don't see that anymore. It's more power type guys...the speed in the game is gone. I'm trying to think of a guy that can run...
They hit more homeruns than we did...we hit singles and ran our butt off.
I dunno, (Jose) Reyes is up there, but that just goes to show you nobody without standard speed stands out because they don't need speed guys anymore.
Jorge Says No!: They always say that the triple is the most exciting play in baseball. Did you enjoy hitting a triple more than a homerun?
Garry Templeton: Oh yeah because that was our thing. Hit the ball into the gap and go. That meant three we want three bags not two. If nobody is on base and a guy hits the guy into the gap and he could run; it's the most exciting play in baseball.
Jorge Says No!: Absolutely.
Garry Templeton: It's the most exciting play in baseball and people don't even realize because one, that guy is circling those bases and the outfielder is hitting the cut off man and the cut off man is trying for third...that's the most exciting play it is, especially when the guy slides in safe. That is an exciting play because that guy is running. I love a triple.
Jorge Says No!: And I gotta ask, for all those people like me out there, who have no chance of playing pro ball: how does it feel to hit a homerun?
Garry Templeton: It's great to me, to me it's a rush. Because you're flying around the bases and when you slide into third and it's safe, it's a big rush. It's like YAYYYYY! I mean, back then, there weren't alot of guys my size that could hit homeruns. You know, they paid us to get on base and let somebody drive you in.
Jorge Says No!: Final question: Your nickname in the beginning of your career was jumpsteady. How did this nickname come to be?
Garry Templeton: Jumpsteady? My cousin gave me that name in Texas because every summer I would go back to Texas and there was a song by Aretha Franklin called "Rock Steady." And when I went to dance to the song, they kept saying that I was jumpin steady. So the name kinda stuck and everyone started calling me jumpsteady. And it's been jumpsteady ever since I got it.
I would like to thank Mr. Templeton for being so kind and generous with his time. He truly was a joy to talk with and spent ample time answering a wide range of questions. He is a first class guy in every sense of the word.
In addition, I must take some time to thank the good people at the Long Beach Armada, who made this possible. I'm thrilled to say that the organization, especially Tony Soares, could not have been nicer and more accommodating.
(h/t: Evan Levitt)
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