(Greetings on "Waffle Day". A week or so ago I read about somebody putting brownie batter in their waffle maker and I haven't been able to think about anything else since. It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 253rd in a series):
Yesterday was Garry Templeton's birthday. Ballplayers' birthdays are always a nice occasion to dig out the birthday boy's card and showcase it on social media.
I chose this particular card because everyone had already shown the rookie cup Templeton card and because who doesn't appreciate the very cool stat of one player getting 100 hits from each side of the plate in a single season?
I've known about Templeton's feat since it happened, it was kind of a big deal. And the record breaker card always helps hammer the achievement home in my memory.
I started to wonder what other switch-hitters had achieved 100 hits on both sides of the plate since Templeton. I had known that Willie Wilson had accomplished the feat the very next year but never heard about anyone else doing it.
So I did a little bit of online research and found out that Templeton wasn't really the first player with 100 hits on either side of the plate, because he never actually achieved it.
If you check out the splits on Templeton's baseball-reference page, you will see that he managed just 96 hits as a right-handed batter in 1979.
For his 211 total hits in 1979, 115 came as a left-handed batter and 96 as a right-handed batter.
Why the discrepancy? Well, according to this thread, they didn't count the hits up so well in 1979. Someone informed Templeton that he had 93 hits as a right-handed batter when it was really 89. Templeton started batting right-handed every at-bat to achieve the mark (a move that didn't endear him to the next Cardinals manager, Whitey Herzog), and according to the back of his 1980 baseball card, he reached 100 hits as a right-hander with a bunt single.
Except that he didn't. It was really his 96th hit from the right side of the plate.
I don't know what goes into the statistical gathering with baseball-reference and retrosheet.org, so I can't say that baseball-reference's stats are 100 percent accurate. But let's face facts. We are far more efficient and fanatical in gathering baseball stats than we ever were in 1979.
The thing that blows my mind is how this was considered absolute fact when it happened and for many years. And Templeton has been credited for the achievement on many a baseball card.
So, not only is the 1980 Highlights card incorrect, but so are the backs of many of Templeton's cards.
And there are many more.
1983 Donruss, 1985 Donruss, 1986 Donruss, 1987 Donruss, 1988 Donruss, 1989 Donruss and 1991 Donruss all mention this feat that never happened.
The same goes for 1988, 1989 and 1990 Score. And 1983 Fleer. And 1981 and 1983 Kellogg's.
Damn right, it's close to the impossible, 1981 Kellogg's.
All of the above cards jumped the gun. Templeton never had 100 hits as a right-hander in a single year.
So that means Willie Wilson, who in 1980 was reported to have reached 100 hits from each side of the plate as part of the 230 he accumulated that year, is the first person to accomplish it, right?
According to his baseball-reference splits, Wilson came up a single hit short on the left side.
(*Mind blown again*)
This is staggering to me. Not merely from the standpoint that I thought all these years that Templeton and Wilson had achieved this, but that it was discovered to be not true and nobody really said anything about it.
When Templeton achieved the feat, it was trumpeted in the newspapers and magazines and a baseball card was made. You can read mentions of it in published books, for crying out loud.
But virtually no mention of "never mind, that didn't happen." Shouldn't MLB or the media or someone have said something?
Looking online, I see virtually no mention of this feat never happening. And it's funny that among the more noted baseball sites and news publications, achieving 100 hits from both sides of the plate is barely mentioned. It's like nobody cares today.
I think that might be because nobody has achieved the mark. I can't find anyone else mentioned besides Templeton and Wilson.
It's funny how certain baseball stats can be so trumpeted and almost sacrosanct for years and then with the passage of time, they are ignored, not even to mention whether they're true or false.
So what is it about these other 1980 Highlights card that isn't true (I'm already aware that Mota doesn't hold the all-time pinch-hit record anymore)?
I don't think I want to know.