Don Lock Born: July 27, 1936 (Wichita, KS)
Graduated: Kingman High School, 1954; Wichita State University, 1958
On July 17, 1962, there probably wasn’t anyone in the world happier than Don Lock. After years of struggle to crack the vaunted Yankee lineup of the late 1950s and early 1960s that included the likes of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris in the outfield, Lock was making his major league debut after he was traded to the Washington Senators. It was a new start for Lock and just what he needed.
The game was tied zero to zero when Lock stepped to the plate to lead off the top of the seventh inning. It was his third at bat against White Sox pitcher Juan Pizarro and Lock had yet to reach base against the veteran hurler. That changed when Lock connected on a deep fly ball to left field for his first major league hit and his first major league home run. Lock’s long ball was the only run scored in the game and propelled the Senators to a one to nothing victory in his first major league game.
Of course, that was just a glimpse of Lock’s career that lands him in the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame today.
Born in Wichita but raised in Kingman, Kansas, Lock was a stellar athlete in his youth. When it came time to attend college, Lock selected Wichita University, now known as Wichita State University, where he played basketball and baseball for the Shockers.
On the hardwood, under the tutelage of Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee and Shocker basketball coach Ralph Miller, Lock led the Shockers in shooting percentage as both a junior and a senior while averaging over eight and a half points per game over both seasons.
While excellent in basketball, baseball was Lock’s particular strength. Lock earned two Missouri Valley All-Conference selections as an outfielder in both 1956 and 1957. Lock’s accomplishments on the diamond didn’t go unnoticed and he signed a free agent contract with the New York Yankees following the 1957 season. In doing so, Lock became just the fourth Shocker in school history to sign a professional baseball contract.
The next few years were a struggle for Lock as he worked his way through the minor league system in the hopes of playing on the big stage in the “House that Ruth Built.” Instead however, Lock was traded to the Washington Senators, where he debuted in dramatic fashion on July 17, 1962. All it took was an opportunity and Lock capitalized on it.
Over the next eight seasons with the Senators, Philadelphia Phillies, and Boston Red Sox, Lock compiled 122 career home runs, 373 career runs batted in, 373 walks, and 642 hits. Lock smacked 27 home runs in 1963 and 28 in 1964, both of which ranked in the top ten in the American League alongside the likes of Harmon Killabrew, Mickey Mantle, and Al Kaline. During those two seasons, Lock average one home run every nineteen at bats.
Lock wasn’t only an offensive threat either as he ranked in the top five in the American League in fielding percentage for centerfielders four consecutive years from 1963 to 1966, led the American League in putouts by a centerfielder in 1963, and led the American League in assists by a centerfielder in 1964.
Following his retirement from playing in 1969, Lock served as a minor league manager with the Winston-Salem Red Sox, the Pawtucket Red Sox, and the Wilson Pennants.
Don Lock’s legend started with one swing of the bat in his major league debut. Today, his legendary story is remembered alongside the greatest athletes ever produced by the state of Kansas.