Larry "Bobby" Locke (2009)

Lawrence Donald “Bobby” Locke fashioned a nine-year career in major league baseball. The former Redstone High School star still wonders if he could have had a better career if he was not plagued by injuries.

Locke was born on March 3, 1934 in the small coal mining community of Rowes Run. Bobby was the eighth child of 10.

Bobby Locke  

He was an outstanding football and baseball player. In football the 5' 11", 185 pound  Locke played fullback and defensive back making the Fayette County All-Star team, Big Six Conference All-Star team and All-WPIAL. In baseball he excelled at pitching. Locke tossed two no hit games and averaged 13 strikeouts per game. Bobby was part of the Redstone undefeated 1952 WPIAL championship baseball team. In the 1-0 championship game against McKeesport, Locke pitched a one hitter striking out 13. Locke was also selected to the 1952 USA Baseball All Star team and played in that game at the New York Giants Polo Grounds.

"We were pretty competitive in football with guys like Gene Zimmerlink. I played running back and I was the punter," Locke recalled. "We had a real good baseball team and I don't think we lost a game in 1952 we won every game. I pitched mostly, but I also played the outfield - I could play almost every position."

Locke accepted a football scholarship to Arizona State University, but things didn't work out in The Valley of the Sun.

"I liked punting the football," Locke stated. "I punted in the first game we played at Arizona State and after the first game I decided I wasn't going to play anymore football, when I realized that I hitchhiked back home."

In 1953, Locke signed an amateur free agent contract as an outfielder-pitcher with the Cleveland Indians.

"We had a bonus clause back then," Locke recalled. "I got $6,000 for a bonus - That's all I got."

At Daytona Beach, Florida, Locke started his professional career playing Class D baseball. The first year his win-loss record was 13-16. In 1954, Locke played in Sherbrook, Canada and posted a win-loss record of 17-7. In 1955, he was assigned to play in Tulsa, Oklahoma alongside Roger Maris and then was subsequently sent to Reading, Pennsylvania to end the season.

Reading is where he had a breakthrough season posting a record of 18-9. After two-years in the service Locke finally made it to the big leagues.

On June 18, 1959, Locke had his Major League debut in Boston at Fenway. Of his debut game he has many memories, but first and foremost was his home run over the “Green Monster” during his second at bat.

"I hit a three-run home run off Frank Sullivan," Locke explained "It was a fastball and it went over the green monster and Sullivan I could hear him when I was running around the bases -'well nobody told me he was a good hitter.'"

He stuck with the Indians for the next three seasons.

Locke's best year in the big leagues was 1960 with Cleveland when he posted a 3-5 record with 2 saves and a 3.37 ERA in 123 innings of work.

Locke pitched for Cleveland to the end of the 1961 season. In 1962, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for second baseman Jerry Kindall. During spring training, Locke suffered an injury to his elbow and was traded to St. Louis and subsequently to the Philadelphia Phillies. This injury changed his pitching role from a starting pitcher to a relief pitcher. During his stint from 1962 through 1964 with the Phillies, Locke was part of the infamous collapse in 1964.

In 1965, Seattle and Cincinnati utilized Locke's pitching ability. From 1966 to 1968, he played in the California Angels organization. Overall, Bobby played in 165 major league games with a record of 16-15 and an ERA of 4.02.

A bizarre twist of fate is the discovery of an old injury late in Locke's career.

"I broke my wrist playing football back in high school," Locke said. "I didn't know it was broken. It was a real small bone in the wrist and I noticed the next spring that I wasn't throwing the ball as hard as I should. As I continued in my career I would notice my wrist would swell. I pitched my whole career with that problem. Dr. Hutchinson he the brother of Fred Hutchinson the manager of the Cincinnati Reds - I was batting with Cincinnati and I got jammed and my fingers swelled up. They X-Rayed my fingers and they noticed the wrist problem. It was one in a million that you could ever pitch with that small broken bone. It was the smallest bone in the wrist and it had healed improperly.

As he looks back Locke wonders about his career.

"I'm happy," Locke observed. "I could have been better, believe me if it wasn't for that broken wrist I'd have been a lot better."

Following his baseball career, Bobby worked in western Pennsylvania in the Postal System and toiled for 26 years as a salesman for Frito-Lay. Bobby and his wife Carma have three children, Kenneth, Robert and Lauren.

He was inducted into the Mid Mon-Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.

Locke,75, is retired and living in Dunbar Township


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