Saturday, March 12, 2016

Meet the Brewers #21: Bob Locker

In the Milwaukee Brewers second game as the Brewers, manager Dave Bristol got a very good start from starter Marty Pattin. The hitters squandered chances in the early innings -- Angels starter Tom Murphy (Brewer #112 and the Brewers closer for 1974 and 1975) allowed seven hits and four walks in 6-2/3 innings -- but the Brewers could only push one run across the plate. 

Once Bristol went to his bullpen, though, the game got out of hand. First, reliever John O'Donoghue allowed 2 batters to reach on a single and a run-scoring triple (after a flyout), then Brewer #21 -- Bob Locker -- came in and allowed inherited runner Bill Voss to score. Then, in the ninth inning, Locker got one out quickly. He then hit Aurelio Rodriguez and let Ken Tatum reach on an error. After Sandy Alomar Sr. grounded into a forceout, Jim Fregosi and Bill Voss had back-to-back hits to score two more runs -- unearned, mind you.

I've always thought that runs caused by pitcher errors should be calculated as earned...

1994 Miller Milwaukee Brewers 
Robert Awtry Locker was a Midwesterner by birth -- born, raised, and educated in Iowa, attending Iowa State University. He pitched three minor league seasons spread over five years -- pitching in 1960, 1961, and 1964 while spending 1962 and 1963 in the military. As a minor leaguer, Locker started in 63 of his 78 appearances. In the major leagues, however, he appeared in 576 games as a reliever and never started a game. 

Locker's career was spent mostly in Chicago and Oakland. He pitched in five seasons for the White Sox, beginning the 1965 season as a 27-year-old rookie with the club and staying there until being traded to the Seattle Pilots in June of 1969 for Gary Bell. With the White Sox, he saved 48 games over the parts of five seasons he spent with the club and led the American League in appearances in 1967 with 77 and finishing second in saves that season with 20. 

He spent just over one calendar year with the Pilots/Brewers -- arriving on June 8, 1969, and departing on June 15, 1970 when the Oakland A's purchased his contract. 

That began a series of back-and-forth moves between Oakland and the Chicago Cubs for Locker. He was a part of the A's first World Series Championship team in 1972 before he was traded to the Cubs by the A's after 1972 for Bill North. He spent 1973 with the Cubs, only to be traded him back to Oakland for the 1974 season. 

Locker missed 1974 thanks to an injury in spring training -- but that didn't stop the Cubs for trading for him again when the club sent Hall of Famer Billy Williams to Oakland in exchange for Locker, Darold Knowles, and Manny Trillo after the 1974 season. Locker was released by the Cubs midway through the 1975 season -- probably because Oakland did not want to trade for him again -- and he called it a career after that.

1970 McDonald's Milwaukee Brewers
As an aside, I'm not sure quite where the McDonald's set got his birthplace from. Hull is right outside Athens, Georgia. It's nowhere near Iowa, obviously, and as best I can tell, there was not another Locker anywhere near baseball at that time.

Since his retirement, Locker settled in California where he hunts, fishes, and serves as the webmaster for a website called "Thanks Marvin." Locker established the website to thank longtime MLBPA leader Marvin Miller for his hard work on behalf of the players to allow them to treat baseball like a year-round career rather than something that interrupted "real" jobs. Locker served as the Brewers player representative for the short time he was in Milwaukee, and he remained involved with the Players' Union for much of his career.

He also established the website to lobby for Miller to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Inexplicably, despite the indisputable facts regarding Miller's positive impact on the game for both players (financially) and fans (without question, the quality of play has improved since players are now professional baseball players all year), Miller still is not a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Thanks both to the late move to Milwaukee in 1970 for the Pilots and his midseason trade to Oakland, there are very few Bob Locker cards showing him as a Brewer. In addition to the two shown above, there are two or three others: the 1970 Mike Andersen Postcard of him, perhaps the MLB PhotoStamp from 1970 of him, and the 1971 Dell Today's Team Stamps which still shows him as a Brewer.

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