The Ozzie Smith for Garry Templeton trade was a deal that certainly changed the future of two franchises.
On December 10, 1981, the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres agreed on a six-player trade.
The Padres traded defensive wizard Ozzie Smith, Al Olmsted, and Steve Mura to the Cardinals for offensive shortstop Garry Templeton, Sixto Lezcano, and Luis DeLeon. The deal’s centerpieces would be Ozzie Smith and Garry Templeton though Lezcano was viewed as a decent prospect.
The primary issue was that Smith had a no-trade clause in his contract and demanded more than twice his salary to waive it. The two sides went back and forth, and finally, on February 11, 1982, the trade was finalized.
San Diego and St. Louis agreed on a trade of two shortstops with different attributes. Templeton was known as a great hitter, while Smith was revered for his glovework and trademark backflip.
Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round (14th pick) of the 1975 draft, it only took Templeton two years to reach the majors as he made his professional debut on August 9, 1976. He ended up hitting .291 that year in 213 at-bats.
In his six seasons in Cardinal red, Templeton hit .305, slugged 25 home runs, and drove in 281 runs. He was regarded as an offensive shortstop at a time where the position traditionally offered nothing in terms of hitting.
He is probably most commonly known for his comments about not showing up to play the 1979 All-Star Game (which he was elected as a reserve). He had better numbers than Dave Concepcion and Larry Bowa, who were selected as starters. Templeton openly stated, “If I ain’t startin. I ain’t departin”. He did not play that year in the All-Star Game and was only elected to one more Mid-Summer Classic (1985 with Padres).
The Padres were in the middle of a contract dispute with Smith and had grown tired of him wanting more money. Templeton had worn out his welcome in St. Louis after saluting fans in the stands with a rude gesture (after not running out a ground ball) in late August 1981. The Cardinals’ management grew tired of his antics and poor attitude.
Garry “Tempy” Templeton was beloved by the fans because of his hard-nosed attitude and the offensive presence he provided to the lineup. A switch-hitting shortstop with a decent bat is what fans will always remember. The confidence he brought to the team also comes to mind. He also never displayed that bad attitude that plagued him in St. Louis while a Padre. He, for the most part, was relatively drama-free. Knee problems kept him from genuinely showing his great athleticism on a nightly basis. He did play in 141 games or more in seven out of his ten years, though in the later years, he never really seemed healthy.
Smith went on to be a Cardinal mainstay for the next 15 years. He went on to win 11 straight Gold Gloves for the team and was nominated to the All-Star Game 14 times. He will go down as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game’s history.
Templeton showed flashes of dominance, but in the end, he never hit as he did for the Red Birds. Padre fans still loved him, though. Even when he was dealt with the New York Mets for Tim Teufel on May 31, 1991, fans still cheered for him. He finished out the year with the Mets but retired at the end of the season at age 36.
Templeton amassed 4,512 at-bats as a Padre with a .252/.325/.418 batting line. He totaled 43 home runs and drove in 427 runners while stealing 101 bases. The numbers really don’t do it justice, as that was a different era of the game. He was indeed a solid shortstop for that time. He wasn’t fantastic by any means, but he was our starting shortstop for ten straight years. For ten years, Padres fans took comfort in knowing “Tempy” was there. Padres fans long for that comfort with the modern team. Hopefully, one day, the San Diego Padres will be lucky enough to have a Templeton plug the shortstop hole for ten years. They are well on their way with Fernando Tatis Jr., who is off to an impressive start to his career.