Today, back in 1979, switch-hitting Cardinal shortstop Garry Templeton (best know as the man traded for Ozzie Smith) became the first player in MLB history to
get 100 hits from each side of the plate – in one season. It would take three hits that day against the Mets and ironically the St. Louis star would bat exclusively right-handed during the final nine games to set the record.
Some baseball purists believe the record is tainted because some of his hits came while batting right-handed against a right-handed pitcher. If anything, it may have made the feat even more impressive since it was the first time Templeton would face righties as a right-handed batter in his career. In addition, during the course of a season, hitters will face more right-handed pitching then left. With that, one has to wonder if say Pete Rose could of achieved the feat at least once – if he tried.
Templeton would only enjoy the record for one season as Kansas City’s Willie Wilson duplicated the feat the very next campaign. Almost to the year, on October 4, 1980, the left-fielder (the first player to reach 700 at-bats in one season) like Templeton, collected three hits to reach the feat in a 17-1 pounding of the Minnesota Twins. The Royal would finish with 230 hits in 705 official at bats that season and set the American League record for singles in a season 184 (previously held by Sam Rice from 1925).
Today the record is still held by both Garry Templeton and Willie Wilson as no switch hitter has been able to duplicate the impressive feat. I sure miss the 70’s and 80’s speedy turf-time!