Friday, October 1, 2010
Unpossible Autograph Friday- Johnny Temple
What a great looking card, right? Johnny's picture on this card looks like it was taken by my photograpy-challenged aunt. A solid third of this card is blue sky, which is fine and good, but pretty boring on a baseball card. Topping off everything else, Johnny's not wearing a hat, and I'm pretty sure that the Orioles uniform never had vertical stripes, but at least this is technically listed as an O's card.
Johnny was only a member of the Orioles for 78 games at the start of the 1962 season as he was nearing the end of his 13 seasons in the Majors. He is best remembered for the nine seasons he spent with the Cincinnati Redlegs from 1952-59 at the start of his career; at some point over those nine years, he led the league in at-bats, walks, sacrifice hits (twice) and sacrifice flies. He also received MVP votes after two seasons and was a three time All-Star, later adding a fourth All-Star appearance while playing for the Indians. His 1957 All-Star appearance could be under some suspicion as that was the season that Redlegs fans stuffed the ballot boxes in favor of their hometown team and elected Cincy players other deserving players, even managing to temporarily snub the eventual '57 MVP, Hank Aaron, before order was restored and Aaron was inserted into the game.
Johnny ended his baseball career with almost twice as many walks (648) as strikeouts (338) and was elected to the Reds Hall of Fame in 1965. Unfortunately, Johnny's exit from baseball was not a graceful one. After an awful start of the 1964 season, while a player/coach with the Reds, he was released and got into a brawl with fellow coach Reggie Otero. Johnny said "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." And he was.
Sadly, Johnny's problems were just beginning. Over the next thirty years, he struggled through many personal issues; bad investments left him almost broke, he developed a drinking problem, and he even was arrested for grand larceny. He passed away from pancreatic cancer on January 9, 1994. RIP Johnny.