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Johnny Temple

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John Ellis Temple

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[edit] Biographical Information

Johnny Temple was a second baseman 18 years (1947-1964), two in college (1947-1948); 13 in the Majors (1952-1964); and five in the minors (1948-1952). Temple was born on Monday, August 8, 1927, in Lexington, NC. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II (BN). He then attended Catawba College (1947-1948), where he starred in baseball.

He broke into Organized Baseball in 1948 at age 20 with Morganton in the Western Carolina League. Scouted by Neal Millard before the 1949 season, he was sent from Morganton to the Cincinnati Reds in an unknown transaction and played for Ogden in the Pioneer League (1949) and Columbia in the South Atlantic League (1950). He married Rebekah Sheely on September 5, 1950 and played for the Tulsa Oilers of the Texas League (1951-1952).

[edit] Major League Career

Temple was 24 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 15, 1952, with the Cincinnati Reds. He played for Cincinnati (1952-1959). On June 14, 1958, in Wrigley Field, there was a sacrifice bunt situation in the second inning. Reds' manager Birdie Tebbetts switched second baseman Temple and slow-moving lefty first baseman George Crowe's positions. However, Crowe continued to wear his first baseman's mitt. Temple charged the plate, caught Johnny Briggs' popped up bunt, and threw to Crowe at first for a double play. On June 27, 1958 at Cincinnati, Temple drilled a 2-out triple in the 9th inning to drive in two runs as the Reds beat the San Francisco Giants, 6–5. On December 15, 1959 he was traded by the Cincinnati Redlegs to the Cleveland Indians for Billy Martin, Gordy Coleman and Cal McLish.

He played for Cleveland (1960-1961) until November 16, 1961 when he was traded by the Cleveland to the Baltimore Orioles for Ray Barker, Harry Chiti, and Art Kay (minor leaguer). On April 10, 1962 at Yankee Stadium, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Bill Skowron hit Opening Day homers to lead New York to a come-from-behind 7–6 win over Baltimore. Temple, in his first game for the O's, had three hits, including a home run. On August 11, 1962 he was purchased by the Houston Colt .45's from the Orioles. He played for Houston (1962-1963) until he was released October 1, 1963. On June 19, 1964 he was signed as a Free Agent with Cincinnati as a player-coach but was released by the Reds where he played his final MLB game on July 8, 1964 at age 34, ending his baseball playing career.

He then turned to broadcasating for the Reds and Houston Astros, ending his baseball career.

When Johnny Temple first came up to MLB, one sportswriter described the second baseman as "a throwback to the old-time, hell-bent for leather, tobacco-chewing players of the Ty Cobb era." That throwback became a four-time All Star, a steady fielder and effective contact hitter who struck out only 338 times in 6,035 plate appearances. Temple was a legitimate leadoff hitter and the popular second baseman for the Reds during the 1950s and a four-time NL All-Star (1956;1957;1959;1961). He hit .300 three times and tied for the National League lead in walks in 1957 with 94. He led National League second basemen three times in putouts and once each in assists and double plays. (JK).

Throughout his outstanding M.L. career, he walked more often than he struck out, compiling an outstanding 1.92 walk-to-strikeout ratio and a .363 on base percentage. Temple also had above-average speed and good instincts on the base paths. Quietly, he had 140 stolen bases in 198 attempts (71%). Defensively, he showed great range with a strong and accurate arm.

In 1959 his best year in MLB (1958 was close), he had 186 hits, 102 runs, 35 doubles, 6 triples, 8 home runs, 67 RBI and 14 stolen bases at (.311/.380/.430), walking 72 times and striking out only 40 in 149 games. In 1949, his best year in the minors, he had 202 hits, 122 runs, 17 doubles, 6 triples, 3 home runs and 78 RBI at (.400/~.465/.476) in 120 games.

Overall in MLB, he had 1,484 hits, 720 runs, 208 doubles, 36 triples, 22 home runs, 395 RBI and 140 stolen bases at (.284/.363/.351), walking 648 times and striking out only 338 in 1,420 games. Overall in the minors, he had 765 hits, 395 runs, 105 doubles, 27 triples, 13 home runs and 266 RBI at (.327/~.411/.397) in 566 games.

In All Star competition, he was 3 for 15 with two runs, a double, a stolen base and an RBI in 6 games.

[edit] A grim ending

After being dismissed by the Reds, Temple engaged in a knock-down-drag-out brawl with fellow coach Reggie Otero. Temple later told reporters, "Twelve years ago I walked into Crosley Field a top-notch professional ballplayer. I'm going out like a bum - beat up, nothing to do and nowhere to go. I'm through in the game."

His troubles, however were just beginning. Temple lost a sizable fortune in bad investments and tax liens, struggled with alcoholism, and was fired from a state job for filing improper expense vouchers. In November 1977 he was arrested in connection with the theft of heavy equipment and charged with grand larceny.

He had black hair and brown eyes, his ancestry was German and his principal hobbies were fishing, refinishing furniture and golf. He died at age 66 at his son's home in Anderson, SC from pancreatic cancer on January 9, 1994 and was cremated. Surviving him were his widow Rebekah Sheely Temple, his son Mike, three brothers and two grandchildren.

[edit] Career Highlights

  • Led Pioneer League in hits (200) and batting average (.400), 1949
  • Led Sally League shortstops in errors (66), 1950
  • Led Texas League in hits (180), and second baseman in assists (454), 1951
  • 4-time All-Star (1956,57,59,61)
  • Hit .300-plus three seasons (1954,58,59)
  • Tied for the National League lead in walks (94; 1957)
  • Led National League second basemen in putouts 3 times: (1954(428);1955(389);1958(396))
  • Led National League second baseman in assists (1956) with 432
  • Led National League second basemen in double plays (1955)
  • Hitting Streaks: 19 games (1961)
  • SH leader, five year periods (1956-1960) and (1957-1961)

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 4-time NL All-Star (1956, 1957, 1959 & 1961)
  • NL At Bats Leader (1956)
  • NL Bases on Balls Leader (1957)
  • NL Singles Leader (1956)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1959)

[edit] Awards and honors

  • Member of Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame (inducted in 1965)

[edit] Quotes

  • One sportswriter described him as "a throwback to the old-time, hell-bent for leather. tobacco-chewing players of the Ty Cobb era."
  • "Twelve years ago I walked into Crosley Field a top-notch professional ballplayer. I'm going out like a bum - beat up, nothing to do and nowhere to go. I'm through in the game."

[edit] Sources

Principal sources for Johnny Temple include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (1954-1964) (WW), old Baseball Registers (1953-1964) (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN (none) (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) ; Baseball: Biographical Encyclopedia by the Editors of Total Baseball; The Texas League in Baseball, 1888-1958 by Marshall D. Wright; and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.

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