On the weekend he returned to St. Louis for the first time as an opponent of the Cardinals, shortstop Garry Templeton got booed, but he also got the last laugh.
Forty years ago, in May 1982, Templeton was with the Padres when they played a series versus the Cardinals at Busch Memorial Stadium. Templeton hadn’t been to St. Louis since being traded by the Cardinals for Ozzie Smith after the 1981 season.
Templeton’s departure from St. Louis was prompted by his outburst in August 1981 when he made obscene gestures to fans at a home game.
On May 28, 1982, a Friday night crowd of 31,733 gathered for Templeton’s return. “The moment Templeton took batting practice, the hecklers went to work,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
During the game “each time he batted, fielded ground balls, or merely stepped out of the dugout, he was booed and harassed,” according to the Post-Dispatch.
Two spectators unfurled a banner that declared, “To forgive is human, to error is Templeton.”
“The fans were what I thought they’d be,” Templeton said to the Post-Dispatch. “I played here before, and there was no change … Common sense should have told you what to expect.”
Batting third in the Padres’ order, Templeton was hitless in four at-bats versus Bob Forsch, who boosted his record to 6-1 in the Cardinals’ 5-2 victory. Rookie Willie McGee, playing in his third home game, scored three times. Boxscore
Templeton got satisfaction in Game 2 of the series on Saturday night May 29. In addition to scoring a run and driving in another, he had a key role in a bizarre play involving Ozzie Smith.
In the eighth inning, with the score tied at 2-2, one out and none on, Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar lined a single against Padres starter and former Cardinal John Curtis.
Smith followed with a groundball single into right field. Andujar rounded second but “stopped dead in his tracks when Sixto Lezcano’s throw came in quickly behind him,” the Post-Dispatch reported.
Templeton took the throw and tossed to third baseman Luis Salazar, who tagged out Andujar.
Before Salazar could fire to second, where Smith was headed, Andujar swiped at the ball and knocked it from Salazar’s grasp, according to the Los Angeles Times. As the ball rolled toward the dugout near third base, catcher Terry Kennedy and left fielder Alan Wiggins chased after it.
Smith sped to third and rounded the bag, but Templeton came up behind him, took a throw from Wiggins and tagged out Smith, ending the inning.
In a baseball rarity, Smith had singled into a double play.
“If you are keeping score, the play went 9-6-5-7-6,” the Los Angeles Times noted.
“That was the weirdest double play I’ve ever been in,” Templeton said.
In the ninth, the Padres scored twice for a 4-2 lead. Leading off the bottom half of the inning against reliever Eric Show, McGee laced a sinking liner that Templeton caught near his shoestrings, preventing the ball from bounding into the outfield for an extra-base hit.
Fans booed Templeton for making the play, prompting Padres manager Dick Williams to tell the Los Angeles Times, “How do people boo a play like that? I’m ashamed to admit I was born in St. Louis. It was totally embarrassing.”
Show retired the next two batters, Lonnie Smith and Keith Hernandez, to seal the Padres’ victory. Boxscore
Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog lamented the base running mistakes that contributed to Smith’s rally-killing double play in the eighth.
“Even if Ozzie stays on third, we’ve got a crack at a run,” Herzog said. “If we go ahead, I bring (closer) Bruce Sutter in, but we never got the chance.”