The first thing that stands out about Garry Templeton Jr., the Hawaii Stars’ rookie manager, is his famous name. And baseball diehards know by heart that his dad, Garry Templeton, was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the San Diego Padres for Ozzie Smith in a swap of shortstops after the 1981 season.
But maybe the two most important things fans and players of the independent North American Baseball League should know is that Templeton Jr., or G2, has paid his dues, traveling the road as a baseball lifer, and he maintains a personality that best fits the category of players’ manager.
He was born in St. Louis and raised in San Diego, following the track of his dad’s baseball career. Templeton, 33, graduated from Poway High in 1996, attended Palomar (Calif.) Junior College for two years and spent a year at North Carolina AT&T before being drafted by the Anaheim Angels in 1999.
After three years in the Angels’ farm system and eight years in independent ball, G2 has been a bench and hitting coach for his dad the past three years with the Long Beach Armada in 2009, the Chico Outlaws in 2010 and the Maui Na Koa Ikaika last season.
The first two years, the father-son duo was in the Golden Baseball League, which became the NABL last season. The older Templeton was going to manage against his son with the Yuma Panthers, but the NABL kicked out Yuma and the Orange County Flyers.
“It’s my first year managing and I’d like to be aggressive. If we’ve got guys who can run, I want to be aggressive running the basepaths,” Templeton Jr. said. “I’d rather not sit around waiting for the three-run homer. I want to create stuff. On defense, I want us to play hard and catch the ball. I want our pitchers to throw strikes.”
Sounds simple enough.
But managing is much more than that. From his dad, G2 learned that managing is also about conviction and relationships — the latter is the part where his easygoing manner might help.
“The lessons I learned from my dad, coaching-wise, is to know your personnel,” he said. “And once you make a decision, stick with it. And whatever type of team you have, you need to be able to communicate with players.
“It’s pretty exciting to manage for the first time. It’s what I’ve been working toward, to get the chance to control my own team. I want to see how good I am at it. My ultimate goal is to win a championship as a manager.”
Hawaii and Maui vice president Dan Partney had no shortage of gold stars to highlight Templeton Jr.’s credentials.
“He’s a good players’ guy. He has a good baseball background. He was born into baseball and had a solid upbringing. That’s a big deal,” said Partney, who is also the Maui general manager. “It’s important to be a baseball fanatic. He has a good mentor in his father. He always has someone to talk to.”
Partney also announced the hiring of Clyde Nekoba as a business consultant Tuesday. The former Hilo Stars general manager of Hawaii Winter Baseball will be a liaison for Partney, working with the Department of Parks and Recreation and helping with local sponsors.
Meanwhile, like most in independent ball, Templeton Jr. hopes to catch on with an affiliated team, hopefully landing a job as a manager or coach with a major league organization. Perhaps the Cardinals or Padres will call, if his resume starts to shine.
And it can be done. Brendan Sagara, who pitched at UH-Hilo, is proof of that. However, the road sometimes may be extremely windy with no light at the end of the tunnel in sight.
Sagara spent a decade in the independent bushes, starting in 2001 as a pitching coach in the Frontier League, enduring grueling bus rides and not knowing where his next job might be. But his long hard work paid off.
He was set to become the Maui Na Koa Ikaika manager this season. Then the Miami Marlins came calling with an offer as a pitching coach in their farm system. Jamie Vermylea, a former Na Koa Ikaika player, is the new Maui manager.
“I’d like to get hired by an affiliated club as a coach or manager,” Templeton said. “If not, I want to continue managing pro independent ball and help markets like Hilo grow and put out a good product for fans to enjoy.”