The softball team I (dis)grace with below average fielding (and worse hitting) has a game scheduled this Tuesday night that conflicts with MLB’s All Star Game. As such, I considered for a moment telling my teammates, “if I’m not startin’, I’m not departin'”, particularly in light of so many big league megastars bailing for a variety of reasons. I thought better of it after deciding most of them would have no idea who or what I was making reference to.
(image culled from Jump Steady Templeton)
As it turns it, I had no idea, either. A catch phrase that was sort of the Allen Iverson “we’re talking about practice” sound bite of the era, was not, in fact, ever uttered by the player it is most often attributed to. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan O’Neil (July 22, 2010) recounted SS Gary Templeton’s precipitous fall from grace with the Cardinals ;
The public erosion began most profoundly in 1979 when Gary Templeton declined to participate in the All-Star Game. Informed he had been added as a reserve, Templeton felt slighted at not being selected as a starter. A flippant response credited to him — “If I ain’t startin,’ I ain’t departin” — has become an infamous part of Cardinals culture.
The expression also is a slightly erroneous piece of Templeton’s legacy, in that he never said it. Cardinals Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck coined the colorful idiom to summarize Templeton’s feelings about making the team as a reserve. However, the self-important sentiment became universally ascribed to Templeton.