Mr. Whitey Lockman died Tuesday at the Mayo Clinic Hospital at the age of 82.
What player names and dramatic accomplishments in a single ball game will conjure up fond memories for our kids decades from now? One of those names for me is Whitey Lockman.
Of course I wasn't there, but my mother and aunt and uncle and brother have all told stories that make me feel as though I was. That day at the Polo Grounds in 1951, the Brooklyn Dodgers led the New York Giants 4-1 in the ninth inning when singles by Alvin Dark and Don Mueller off Dodgers starter Don Newcombe put runners at the corners. Monte Irvin fouled out, and then Whitey Lockman hit an RBI double just inside the left-field line that left two on for Thomson.
I wasn't there, but heard many times how Ralph Branca came in as the relief pitcher--and Thomson followed with a three-run homer to left field, which of course became known as "The Shot Heard Round the World," miraculously clinching the pennant for the Giants. Thomson's home run was dramatic but Whitey played an important role that day, too. I wasn't there, but I grew up in a New York Giants family--long after the New York Giants were no more--and Whitey Lockman's name had to be uttered with respect. Because he doubled ahead of Bobby Thomson's home run. I wasn't there, and had no personal memory of the game, or the players or their accomplishments except through names uttered and recollections repeated and tales of family members gathered around the radio in a distant past, of shouts of joy up and down the city streets. It's true, I wasn't there, but it seems as though I was. And one detail I'll always remember is Whitey's name and what he did that day.