WAILUKU - Garry Templeton's one trip to Maui in a baseball uniform was memorable.
Templeton's Chico Outlaws won the Golden Baseball League title with a 7-1 victory over Na Koa Ikaika Maui at Maehara Stadium in Game 3 of the championship series on Sept. 18, completing a sweep that began with two games in California. The teams did not play a regular-season game on Maui.
In May, the three-time major league All-Star will be the manager for the home team at Maehara, the new owners of Na Koa announced on Thursday. Templeton played 16 seasons in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals (1976-81), San Diego Padres (1982-91) and New York Mets (1991).
Garry Templeton has managed Golden Baseball League teams in five of the last six seasons.
Jason Halley Chico Enterprise-Record photo
Maui played its inaugural season this year, and under Cory Snyder set GBL records for victories and winning percentage with a 56-26 regular season, then won the Southern Division title in five games over the Orange County Flyers. Last month, Snyder accepted a job as hitting coach with the Seattle Mariners' Double-A affiliate in Jackson, Tenn.
"Well, you know, I am excited," Templeton said via phone from his home in Poway, Calif. "I think Cory and all the people last year did one heck of a job putting together a championship team. It is always a great opportunity to come over to Hawaii - not many people can say that they have managed a professional baseball team in Hawaii. They had a lot of great players from Hawaii on the team and I am looking forward to having those young men on the team, too."
This will be Templeton's fourth managing job in the GBL - he started with the league as manager of the Orange County Flyers from 2005 to 2007, sat out the 2008 season and was manager of the Long Beach Armada in 2009.
"It is always important to have local guys," Templeton said. "Everywhere I have managed we had as many local players as I could possibly find - they still have to be able to play - but it is very important. Then, the fans get the chance to see their local players play against other good players."
Templeton knows good players, having been one himself. He batted over .300 three times in a four-year span - his .322 average in 1977 was fourth in the National League, and he also hit .314 in 1979 and .319 in 1980. He batted .271 with 70 home runs, 728 RBIs, 893 runs and 242 stolen bases in his career, and led the NL in triples in 1977 (18, best in the majors) '78 (13) and '79 (19).
Templeton's agreement in Chico was for one season. His former affiliation with new Maui owners Harris Tulchin, Bob Young and Leroy Pettigrew in Orange County - all three Valley Isle owners are still Flyers stakeholders - led them to Templeton being their first choice to replace Snyder.
"Garry did a fantastic job for us in 2010 and we were hoping to have him back," Outlaws president Mike Marshall said in a press release. "Given the allure of (Hawaii) and his closeness to the ownership group I can certainly understand Garry's decision and wish him well."
Templeton saw plenty of potential in the announced crowd of 2,145 at Game 3 of the GBL title series.
"That was awesome, that was some kind of crowd out there, all up there sitting on that hillside, people packed the stands around the stadium and that is what I am looking to continue," he said. "We want to bring the fans out to continue watching baseball."
He also liked the Maehara Stadium facilities.
"Well, remember we only played the one game there, but I liked the stadium, I thought the field played real well," he said. "It seemed like a good-hitting ballpark. The hitters have to get adjusted to that wind coming in off of right field. Other than not having a clubhouse - and that is an issue throughout the Golden Baseball League - it was a really nice facility."
The GBL announced plans in November to be part of the North American League with a schedule that will have GBL teams facing each other about 75 percent of the time, with the other games in Texas against United League opponents and in Illinois against teams from the Northern League.
"I think anything is manageable, it just depends on how they go about it," Templeton said. "There are always ways they can do it and make it work - it is just a matter of if they can pull it off."
The North American League is to have 16-20 teams.
"Am I concerned about the travel? No," Templeton said. "When you play it is just like anything else, you have to travel. I am looking forward to it. I think it opens things up, going to Illinois and see them and play them and then to Texas to see and play them. We are on the borderline of having bigger and better things to do in the independent leagues."
Templeton said he would be in contact with Snyder before the season.
"I want to ask him his take on the players who were there last season and the other stuff I will need to know about playing on Maui," Templeton said.
Like Snyder and the players in the league, Templeton said his long-term goal is a return to affiliated baseball.
"I think sooner or later I will be trying to get back into affiliated," he said. "I was only there for that one game, but my impression is we just want to keep a championship team in balance."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com