Whitey Lockman, the New York Giants outfielder-first baseman who set the stage for Bobby Thomson’s pennant-winning home run against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951 and who played in two World Series at the Polo Grounds, died Tuesday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 82.Enlarge This Image Carl T. Gosset Jr./The New York Times
Whitey Lockman, on left, in 1951.
His death was confirmed by Gary Hughes, a Chicago Cubs executive, according to Yahoo Sports, which said the cause was pulmonary illness. Lockman was a former Cubs manager and a longtime member of their organization. The San Francisco Giants and the Cubs observed a moment of silence for Lockman before their exhibition game in Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday.
Lockman spent more than half a century in baseball, as a player for 15 seasons in the major leagues and as a manager, coach, front-office executive and scout. But he was probably best remembered for his role in the events of a single day: Oct. 3, 1951.
The Giants trailed the first-place Dodgers by 13 ½ games in mid-August that year but came back to forge a tie for first place in the National League. In the finale of a three-game playoff, the Giants trailed the Dodgers, 4-1, going into the last of the ninth inning at the Polo Grounds.
Alvin Dark singled off Don Newcombe, the Dodgers’ starting pitcher, and Don Mueller singled Dark to third. Monte Irvin fouled out, bringing Lockman to the plate.
A left-handed batter, Lockman was a line-drive hitter, an excellent bunter and a speedy base runner. But he was not envisioning a single when he fouled the first pitch from the hard-throwing Newcombe back to the screen.
“My one thought when I came up to bat in the ninth was to go all out for a homer, although I wasn’t that much of a homer hitter, especially against Newcombe,” Lockman told Ray Robinson in “The Home Run Heard ’Round the World” (1991).
Lockman connected on Newcombe’s second pitch, high and outside.
“My instinct and muscle control took over,” Lockman remembered. “I knew it was impossible to pull it for a homer, so I sliced it to left.”
The ball landed just inside the foul line, and by the time left fielder Andy Pafko chased it down, Lockman had a double, Mueller was on third base, severely injuring his ankle as he arrived there, and Dark had scored to make it 4-2.
Ralph Branca relieved Newcombe, then Thomson came to the plate. His home run over the left-field wall gave the Giants a 5-4 pennant victory in perhaps the most dramatic moment in baseball history.
Carroll Walter Lockman, a native of Lowell, N.C., made his major league debut with the Giants in 1945. He became a regular three years later and was an All-Star in 1952. He was with the Giants when they lost to the Yankees in the 1951 World Series and swept the Cleveland Indians in the 1954 Series.
In 1958, Lockman was with the Giants when they played in their new San Francisco home. He also played for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Baltimore Orioles and the Cincinnati Reds. He had a career batting average of .279. He managed the Cubs from 1972 to 1974, succeeding his former Giants manager, Leo Durocher.
Information about his survivors was not immediately available.
For all the thrill of Thomson’s epic homer, Lockman remembered a down note. He injured his shoulder and neck in helping frenzied teammates lift Thomson over their heads.
“It sure screwed me up for the World Series,” he told Thomas Kiernan in “The Miracle at Coogan’s Bluff” (1975). “I could hardly throw or swing a bat in the whole Series.”