Whitey Lockman: 1954 World Champion New York Giants First Baseman (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.

MLB Debut: Lockman made his MLB debut on July 5, 1945; at the age of 18 & 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.

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

Although his numbers were almost exact on both halves of the season, he had his best month that August. He hit .302 with 4 HRs & 9 doubles while driving in 22 runs. 

In September he hit just one HR, but it came in the second game of a double header sweep of the Phillies on September 3rd at the Polo Grounds in a 3-1 win. The Giants finished the day still six games back of the Dodgers. But they would go 19-5 the rest of the way to win the NL Pennant.

He drove in runs in four of the final regular season games leading up to the tie breaking series with Brooklyn, as the two teams tied for first place to end the season. 

1951 NL Playoff: Lockman collected a hit in the first game of the three-game tie breaking series, as the Giants went on to a 3-1 win in Brooklyn. He was hitless in the game #2 loss.

He then secured his place in history in the classic Game #3 at the Polo Grounds In the bottom of the 2nd inning, he & Bobby Thomson singled but were stranded on base when Willie Mays lined out to left field to end the inning. After going 1-2 Lockman stepped in with two men on & one out in the bottom of the 9th inning with the Giants down 4-1. Lockman doubled off Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe scoring Alvin Dark & advancing Dom Mueller to third base. He kept the Giants rally alive bringing them to within two runs, putting two men in scoring position.

On the play Don Mueller slid into third base & broke his ankle, he was removed from the field on a stretcher. The Dodgers also med a pitching change as Ralph Branca came in to pitch to Bobby Thomson. Next Thomson hit the most famous HR in baseball history, his “shot heard round the world” won the pennant for the Giants, as Lockman would be the tying run crossing the plate just ahead of Thomson.

During the celebration Lockman injured his shoulder & his neck which affected him in the World Series.

1951 World Series: In Game #1 of the 1951 World Series, Lockman hit a ground rule double in the cavernous left field of the AL' New York teams Stadium, driving in the series' first run of the Giants win. In Game #3 he at the Polo Grounds, Lockman hit a 5th inning three run HR off Vic Raschi in the Giants 6-2 win. 

Overall, he went 6-25 in the Series, batting .240, with 1 HR 4 RBIs & two doubles. The Giants ran out of gas & lost the series in six games.

After the Pennant: 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.

1954 Giants Championship Season: During the regular season, manager Leo Durocher would even use Lockman in a leadoff spot due to his consistency & abilities to not strike out often or ground into double plays. He was a much better hitter in Polo Grounds batting .276 at home with 12 HRs & 40 RBIs as opposed to .230 4 HRs & 20 RBIs on the road. He hit 13 of his 16 HRs in the first half of the season, although he missed a week of action in August.

On May 25th he hit his first career grand slam, it came off Pittsburg's Joe Page in a Giants 21-4 shellacking of the Pirates. Lockman had a season best four hits to go with his four RBIs on the day. On September 11th he hit a grand slam HR off the Reds Howie Judson in a 7-5 win. It was his second & only four RBI game of the year. He would have three different three RBI games & a dozen multi-RBI games on the season.

On the year, Lockman hit .251 with 16 HRs 17 doubles 3 triples & 60 RBIs as the team's everyday first baseman. The Giants won 97 games (97-57) finishing in first place five games ahead of their rival Brooklyn Dodgers. From 1951-1956 the Dodgers won four NL pennants & the Giants won the other two years.

1954 World Series:
   In Game #1 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians in the Polo Grounds, Whitey led off the home 3rd inning with a single & scored the Giants first run of the game in the 5-2 win. 

His only other hit of the series came leading off in Game #3 at Cleveland, as he singled off Mike Garcia. In the 6th inning, he drew a walk & later scored on Willie Mays' base hit in the 6-2 win. The Giants shocked the mighty Indians with a four-game sweep, winning their first Championship in 21 years. It was their fifth & final championship in New York.

Overall, in the Series Lockman only hit .111 (2-18)

After the Championship: At the 1955 home opener, Lockman & Alvin Dark raised the Championship flag in the Polo Grounds.

In the 1955 season he batted .273 with 15 HRs 19 doubles & 49 RBIs. 

Traded: In 1956 he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals but was sent back to the Giants at the end of the season. 

In 1957 he was a member of the Giants' last New York team, batting .248 with 7 HRs & 30 RBIs playing in 133 games for the sixth-place team.  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 went 0-3 in the last Giants game at the Polo Grounds.

The Move Out West: In 1958 Whitey moved west with the team to San Francisco, batting .238 in 92 games. 

In 1959 his contract was purchased by the Baltimore Orioles. In June of that season, he was traded to the Reds for Walt Dropo. He finished up his career in 1960 when he was released in July.

Career Stats: 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.

Coach & Manager: Then he served as the Giants third base coach under old teammate 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 the Chicago Cubs' manager. Owner Phil Wrigley was dismantling his team in those days, but Lockman did the best he could bringing up players like Burt Hooton, Rick Reuschel & Bill Madlock. Lockman went 157-162 as Cubs manager (.492%) before moving to their front office in 1974.

Whitey later worked in the front offices for the Montreal Expos & Florida Marlins, retiring in 2001 after 59 years in the game. 

Family: In 1951 Whitey married Shirley Elizabeth Conner. Together they had six children, four daughters & two sons. They were married for fifty years until her passing in 2001.

In 2007 Whitey married his second wife Linda.

Passing: Whitey passed away from pulmonary complications on St. Patrick’s Day 2009 at the age of 82.


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