SI Vault
Steve Wulf
September 07, 1981
Each in his own way, Garry Templeton, Reggie Jackson and Dave Parker faced a slew of troubles on and off the field
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September 07, 1981

The Bounce, The Bench And The Boo-birds

Each in his own way, Garry Templeton, Reggie Jackson and Dave Parker faced a slew of troubles on and off the field

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A simple little act turned the week around for Jackson. In the seventh inning Friday night he singled up the middle. Then, on a deep fly by Graig Nettles, Jackson hurried back to first, tagged up and ran to second. It wasn't three home runs in a World Series game, but Jackson's hustle paid off when he scored from second on a Bucky Dent single.

The most extraordinary thing happened when Jackson went out to rightfield in the bottom of the inning. The White Sox fans, appreciative of his head's-up play, started throwing money at him, and Jackson, who makes $600,000 a year, eagerly began picking it up. He singled once more and by the end of the Yankees' 6-1 victory, he had collected $31.27 in bills (two fives, four singles) and silver, one phone number and several blades of grass.

Later, during the cab ride back to the hotel, Jackson couldn't get over the fans' largess. "Wasn't that something?" he said. "I had such fun tonight. It was wonderful. They said, 'He's down, but he's busting his ass.' People know I'm getting jacked around. Things like that—they're better than beer. It was a real show of love, or at least a show of like."

So for the time being he was content. "That's just part of the roller-coaster ride that's Reggie Jackson," he said. "Wherever you go in the world—Denmark, China, Australia—they may not have heard of the Golden Gate Bridge or Mardi Gras, but they've heard of the New York Yankees. It's a privilege to wear the uniform." In other words, you win, George.

On Saturday, Jackson crushed a pitch against the facing in the upper deck in rightfield of Comiskey Park for his first homer in 94 at bats. It was the first volley in a game New York won 12-2. When it was over, Jackson spent a few minutes sifting through the grass in rightfield. He didn't have such a good night: only a few dollar bills and maybe $5 in silver.

On Sunday, Jackson's RBI single in the first inning sent the Yankees on their way to a 5-1 victory. Apparently Steinbrenner's psych was working. Reggie also made a diving catch. "Not bad for an old guy on the slide," said Jackson. However, his outfield takings amounted to a mere $1.26 this time.

It wasn't money the St. Louis fans threw at Templeton. While Jackson escaped his nightmare by hustling, a lack of hustle started Templeton's. In the first inning of a game with San Francisco, instead of running to first after Giants Catcher Milt May let a third strike get by him, Templeton trotted a third of the way down the line and then headed for the dugout. The crowd of 7,766 booed him, and he claims some fans near the Cardinal dugout hurled ice cubes and racial slurs at him. As he returned to the dugout, Templeton made an X-rated gesture. Umpire Bruce Froemming warned Templeton to "knock it off." The catcalls continued in the second inning and reached a crescendo as Templeton knelt in the on-deck circle in the third. Templeton went to Froemming and told him he had a right to retaliate against the fans for razzing him. He then made another obscene gesture, and Froemming ejected him from the game. On his way to the dugout, Templeton made still another gesture, one of conspicuous vulgarity, at which point Herzog grabbed him by the shirtfront and dragged him down the dugout steps. They scuffled before players and coaches separated them, with Herzog yelling, "Get out of here. I don't want you on the road trip. I don't want you around my players. I don't want to see you. You make $690,000 and you go and make an ass of yourself. I don't need that and my boys don't need that."

At a postgame news conference, a calmer Herzog said, "I'd like for him to come back and play to the best of his ability. In all my years in baseball, I've never seen a player with so much talent." Many of Templeton's teammates, however, weren't eager to see him return. Catcher Gene Tenace was the most adamant. "We're better off without him," said Tenace. "I don't think he's got the guts to show up here. Whatever he does, I don't have any respect for him."

Other teammates were more understanding. The shortstop for now, Mike Ramsey, said, "I'd like to get into his head and find out what he's thinking." Said outfielder Sixto Lezcano, "We all make mistakes. I hope he joins us and everything is like it was before."

Like it was before. Templeton's nickname is Jump Steady, but in his six years with the Cardinals he's been more jump than steady, though in 1979 he became the first switch hitter to get 100 hits from both sides in a single season, and the last two years he has hit better than .300. In 1978 he threatened to quit over a pay cut and drive a beer truck. In 1979 he thought his salary increase was too small and said, "If they want me to go in the hole, they'll have to pay me more money." He also said the Cardinals and their fans could take the shortstop job and shove it between the Gateway Arch. Miffed over not starting, he refused an invitation to the 1979 All-Star Game and asked Pirate Manager Chuck Tanner not to name him to the 1980 All-Star squad. Sprinkled in between were requests to be traded to a West Coast team.

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