Jul 23, 2016

1954 World Champion New York Giants First Baseman: Whitey Lockman (1945-1958)

Carol Walter Lockman was born on July 25, 1926, in Lowell, North Carolina.  Lockman was signed by the New York Giants in 1943 at the young age of 16. He was an outfielder with the Jersey City Giants in 1944, leading the International League in both outfield assists & errors.

He made his MLB debut on July 5, 1945; at the age of 18, and hit a HR in his first career at bat. His season ended when he was drafted into the Merchant Marines, he finished batting hit .341 in 129 at bats. After missing the 1946 season while in the military he returned in 1947 only to then break his ankle. In 1948 he became a Giants regular outfielder until 1951, when he began to play at first base as well.

He became one of the toughest players in the league to strike out, only striking out more than 36 times twice while averaging over 530 at bats each season. He rarely hit into double plays, averaging one every 87 at bats, one of the best ratios in baseball history.

In his first full season he hit .286 as the Giants leadoff hitter with career highs in HRs (18 HRs,) triples (10) & runs scored (117). He also led all NL outfielders with 388 putouts. Whitey had his only other .300 season in 1949, hitting 11 HRs, 65 RBIs & a career high 32 doubles. He missed some time in 1950 but hit .295 in 129 games with only 6 HRs.


In 1951 the Giants won the pennant and Lockman was a key player in the improbable comeback to catch the Dodgers for the pennant. He played in all but one game batting .282 with 12 HRs 27 doubles 7 triples & a career high 73 RBIs. He struck out only 32 times in 614 at bats.

Lockman secured his place in history in the classic 1951 Game #3 Playoff Game at the Polo Grounds against Brooklyn. He stepped in with two on & one out in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Giants down 4-1. He doubled off Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe scoring Alvin Dark & kept the Giants rally.

On the play Don Mueller slid into third base & broke his ankle, he was removed from the field on a stretcher. Next Bobby Thomson hit the famous “shot heard round the world” and Lockman would be the tying run crossing the plate proper to Thomson.

In the 1951 World Series, Lockman hit a three run HR in Game #3 at the Polo Grounds, in the Giants 6-2 win. He went 6-25 in the Series, batting .240, with 1 HR 4 RBIs & two doubles.

In 1952 he made his only All Star appearance, batting .290 (10th in the league) getting 176 hits (5th in the league) & scoring 99 runs (4th in the league). Lockman hit 13 HRs with 58 RBIs & a .368 on base %, while playing in a league leading 150 games. Defensively he led NL first basemen in putouts and double Plays. In 1953 he batted .295 with 179 hits, 22 doubles, a. 351 on base % striking out just 36 times in 607 at bats. He dropped off to just 9 HRs on the season.

In the 1954 Giants Championship season, Lockman hit .251 with 16 HRs 17 doubles 3 triples & 60 RBIs during the regular season, as the everyday first baseman. During the season he would often bat leadoff because of his consistency, & ability to not strike out or hit into double plays. In the ’54 World Series he only hit .111 (2-18). In Game #1 he led off the home third inning with a single & scored the Giants first run of the game. In Game #3 he singled & scored on Willie Mays hit in the sixth inning.

In the 1955 season he batted .273 with 15 HRs 19 doubles & 49 RBIs. In 1956 he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals then was sent back to the Giants at the end of the season. He was a member of the Giants' last New York team, going 0-3 in the last game at the Polo Grounds in 1957. That season he struck out only 19 times in 502 official plate appearances, which averaged out to a strike out every 24 at bats (second best ratio in the league).

He moved west with the team to San Francisco, in 1958 batting .238 in 92 games. He finished up his career in 1960 after brief stints in Cincinnati & Baltimore. Lifetime in 1,666 games, Lockman had a .279 career batting average with 1658 hits 114 HRs, 222 doubles, 49 triples, & 563 RBIs.

He posted a .342 on base % & struck out 383 times in 5940 at bats. Not only was he tough to strike out but he was also hard to double up, hitting into a double play every 87 at bats, one of the best averages in MLB history.

Retirement: After his playing days he started out coaching right away, first in Cincinnati with the NL Champion Reds in 1961.

Then he served as the Giants third base coach under old team mate Alvin Dark from 1962-1964. He moved on the Chicago Cubs organization as a minor league manager & Director of Player development throughout the sixties.

In July 1972, he succeeded his old skipper Leo Durocher, as Cubs' manager. Owner Phil Wrigley was dimatling his team in those days but Lockan did the best he could bringing up players like Burt Hooton, Rick Reushel & Bill Madlock.

He went 157-162 as Cubs manager (.492%) then moved to their front office in 1974.

He later worked in the front offices for the Montreal Expos & Florida Marlins, retiring in 2001 after 59 years in the game. He passed away from pulmonary complications on St. Patrick’s Day 2009 at the age of 82.

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