Friday, March 23, 2012

#354 - Whitey Lockman/ Cubs Field Leaders

This happy guy is Whitey Lockman and if this photo is taken early enough in '73 he had reasons to smile. Whitey had been with the Cubs a few years when he was named successor to Leo Durocher in July of '72. A nice change from Leo's berating, the mellow Whitey led the Cubs to a 39-26 finish and to a pretty good early-season run in '73 and by the end of June they were seven up in the division. But the big averages of veterans Ron Santo, Glenn Beckert, and Billy Williams faded as the team showed its age. First base was pretty much a mess and while the team had some promising young pitchers, they weren't yet ready to drag the team to a good finish. The club went 6-17 after the All-Star break to lose any real hope of competing for the division. In '74 three quarters of the infield would be new and a not great start - they didn't finish too hot either - would get Whitey pushed back upstairs where he would have a mighty long career for Chicago and some other teams. Maybe that smile worked wonders.

Whitey Lockman came out of North Carolina to be signed by the NY Giants at age 16 in 1943. His age kept him out of the military and that summer he got things rolling in A ball by hitting .325 before being promoted to Double A Jersey City where he would reside the next three seasons. In mid-’45 after showing some unusual power and hitting .317 he got called up to NY where the rest of the way he hit .341. As in the minors he played in the outfield his rookie year, establishing early his very good contact-hitting low-strikeout abilities. In ’46 he did his military hitch, missing the season. When he returned in ‘47 he got hurt in his first game and missed the rest of that year as well. When he returned in ’48 he took a regular spot in the outfield which he held through ’50. In ’51 a kid named Willie Mays came up and Whitey moved to first. That October he knocked starter Don Newcombe out of a playoff game, setting up Bobby Thomson’s big homer. He then had a pretty good Series against the Yankees. He continued at first through ’54, his other Series season. In ’55 and the first half of ’56 he returned to the outfield. Midway through ’56 he went to the Cards in a big trade that brought Red Schoendienst to the Giants. He returned to NY and first base for Hoyt Wilhelm in ’57. That was his final year as a regular. The rest of his career he moved to a back-up role at first for the Giants, Orioles and Reds, finishing in 1960. He had a .279 average with 114 homers, 563 RBIs, and 862 runs. He had over 1,600 hits, a .342 OBA, and only 382 strikeouts, or about one every 18 at bats. He was an All-Star once and hit .186 in ten post-season games. Whitey then moved immediately into coaching, joining the Reds staff in ’61. From ’62 to ’64 he joined old teammate Al Dark back with the Giants. From ’65 to ’70 he managed in the Cubs chain, going 353-377. He also performed some admin roles including director of player development. He took over the manager job in ’72 and retained it midway through ’74 when he returned to the admin side. His MLB managing record was 157-162. He remained with the Cubs in positions related to player development through ’89. He then took on similar roles with Montreal (’90 to ’92) and the Marlins (’93 to 2001). He retired to Arizona where he passed away in 2009 at age 82.

Hank Aguirre was of Mexican descent (his name was pronounced ah-GEAR-ah) and grew up in California where he worked at his dad’s taco business. He didn’t stick in baseball until he went to college, graduating from East Los Angeles Junior College in ’51. There he picked up a rudimentary screwball which he later refined in the minors, beginning his first season that summer in Duluth, an independent C League team. He was then picked up by the Cleveland system, where he spent the better part of the next six seasons working up the ladder as a starter while working out some control issues and twice winning 14 games. From ’55 to ’57 he would also get into a few games in Cleveland as both a starter and reliever, and do pretty well, going 6-6 with a 3.84 ERA. Before the ’58 season he was traded to Detroit. For the Tigers the next few years he would work primarily out of the pen, mostly as a set-up guy although he did get ten saves in ’60, his best season to date. In ’62, injuries to the Tigers pitching staff pushed Hank into the rotation and he had a bang-up year, going 16-8 and leading the majors with a 2.21 ERA. He stayed in the rotation the next three seasons, going a combined 33-35 with a 3.66 ERA. In ’67 he returned to the pen and the next year he was traded to the Dodgers, unfortunately missing Detroit’s big Series year. After an excellent year – a 0.69 ERA – Hank went to the Cubs for the next two seasons, his last as a player. He finished with a record of 75-72, with a 3.25 ERA, 44 complete games, and 33 saves. He then took over the Cubs pitching coach job which he kept through ’74. In ’75 he managed in the minors for a season, going 72-71 for Triple A Tucson in the Oakland system. In off-seasons he had continued to live around Detroit and beginning in ’76 he got involved in the auto industry. In ’79 he opened his own business, Mexican Industries, and became a supplier of parts to Volkswagen, employing many Latin workers and growing the business rapidly. He became a revered local businessman and was widely eulogized when he passed away in ’94 at age 62 from prostate cancer.

Jim Marshall was born in Illinois and raised in Long Beach, California where he attended Long Beach State after graduating high school. He was signed by the White Sox in ’50 and took a while to wind through the minors even though he had three seasons with over 100 RBIs at various levels, all while playing first base. By the time he made it up he was traded to the Orioles with whom he debuted in ’58. Before the season was over he was sent to the Cubs for whom he had nearly as much RBI’s in less than half as many at bats, hitting .272 after a .215 for the O’s. That got him in the starting lineup in ’59 but after hitting only 11 homers with 40 RBI’s as a semi-starting first baseman his remaining career role as back-up was established. He would play for the Giants, Mets, and Pirates the next three seasons and be out of the bigs by ’62, finishing with a career average of .242. He hit .275 with over 200 homers in the minors. From ’63 to ’65 he played for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan, compiling a .268 average with 78 homers and 252 RBI’s during those three seasons. In ’66 he returned to the States and after a couple seasons coaching was managing in the Cubs chain by ’68 which he did through the ’73 season, racking up a 425-397 record. In ’74 he was named a coach and he assumed the manager spot that July when Whitey Lockman was moved upstairs. Jim managed the cubs through ’76, going 175-218 and was dismissed after that season. He then managed for two seasons at Triple A levels: for the Expos in ’77 (71-65); and for the A’s in ’78 (74-65). In ’79 he managed Oakland to a 54-108 record before he was removed to make way for Billy Martin. He then returned to Japan to coach through ’83. He returned to the States in ’84 where he managed (’84, ’86) and coached (’85, ’87-’89, ’91-’95) in the minors, managed in the Senior League (’90) and scouted and consulted in and on the Pacific rim for Arizona (’96 to present). He is still in baseball at age 80.

JC Martin was signed out of high school in Virginia by the White Sox in ’56. In school he starred in hoops, track, football, and as an infielder. His first few years in the minors he played exclusively first base and took a while to get his stroke going. In ‘59 and ’60 he put up two solid seasons in Triple A while spending much more time at third base. Both years he got short looks up top and in ’61 he spent the season exclusively in Chicago. While his offensive numbers were nothing special he did make the Topps Rookie Team that year at first. It was then decided that since his offense wasn’t good enough for a corner infielder he should become a catcher. He returned to A ball to learn his new position under its manager Les Moss, a former MLB catcher. JC excelled both offensively and defensively and the next season became the starting Chicago catcher, a position he hung onto more or less the next five seasons. While his offense was never super productive – very few ones were on the team back then – he became an expert at handling knuckle balls as the ChiSox staff was always awash in those pitchers. Before the ’68 season he went to the Mets and the next two years he would alternate with Jerry Grote behind the plate. He saw limited action in the ’69 post-season but most of his appearances were big deals. In the playoffs he knocked in two runs in one of his two at bats. In the Series he famously got hit with the ball while running to first, allowing Rod Gaspar to score from second base with the winning run in Game Four. After that season he went to the Cubs where he backed up Randy Hundley the next three seasons. He did some coaching as well in ’72 and then spent ’73 both playing and coaching at the Triple A level. That year was his last as a player and he finished with a .222 average along with his .500 post-season one. ’74 would be his only season as strictly a coach. In ’75 he joined Harry Caray behind the mike in a less than pleasant experience. After that year he moved to North Carolina where he worked locally, eventually owning his own cleaning business, and still resides.

Al Spangler was another recent retiree to coach the Cubs. Born in Philadelphia he had a heart ailment as a kid and couldn’t play sports until high school. A fast outfielder he then went to Duke University where he played until his junior year – hitting .383 and .406 his two varsity seasons – when he was signed by the Braves in ’54. He hit pretty well the rest of the summer and then in ’55 in A ball hit .287 with an over-.400 OBA. He was slated to make the Braves off a strong spring training in ’56 but then got drafted into the military and lost all of the next two seasons. When he returned in ’58 it was to two years of Triple A in which he averaged over .290. He got a short look up top the latter year and then spent ’60 and ’61 as a back-up outfielder in Milwaukee. He was then drafted by the Colt .45’s in the expansion draft and spent the next three seasons as the team’s most successful hitter while starting in the outfield. In ’65 after a slow start he was sent to California where he played a reserve role the next season-plus and then spent most of ’66 back in Triple A. During spring training of ’67 he signed with the Cubs where for the next three seasons he would platoon in right. In ’70 and ’71 he mostly pinch-hit while also coaching. In ’72 he became a coach exclusively ending his playing career with a .262 average and .347 OBA. In ’72 and ’73 he managed for the Cubs at the Double A level, going a combined 132-145. He joined the staff up top for ’74. He then coached a few more seasons in the minors before returning for good to the Houston area where he worked for an investment firm. In ’84 he took a job as baseball coach and algebra teacher – he finished his Duke degree in math during the ’58 off-season – at Huffman Hargrave High School in Huffman, Texas and did that through ’96. He then retired and still lives in the area.

Big post. Looking at the careers on the back of the card I would say that in total the Cubs coaches had about as long a run in the majors as any team's. They wouldn't stay together very long though.

We get to do a double hook-up here since Whitey had such an impressive playing career. First with him as manager:

1. Lockman managed Milt Pappas on the '72 to '73 Cubs;
2. Pappas and Boog Powell on the '61 to '65 Orioles;
3. Powell and Rich Coggins on the '73 to '74 Orioles.

Now with Whitey as a player:

1. Lockman and Stu Miller '57 to '58 Giants;
2. Miller and - what the hell - Boog Powell '63 to '67 Orioles;
3. Powell and Rich Coggins '73 to '74 Orioles.

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