Friday, March 17, 2017

Topps Bobby Locke PC

I never thought I would include Bobby Locke in my list of PCs but here he is. Before I pulled his autograph out of a Heritage pack I really had never given him much thought. I had his 1960 Topps card but I haven't featured it yet on that blog. He has no '58 or '59 cards so I had yet to do any looking into his career.

Locke appeared in five different Topps sets during his career. I picked up the ones I didn't have from eBay last week.

This is his 'rookie' card, the 1960. Pretty standard card with a portrait and a b/w 'action' pose. I'm 99% sure this is a picture taken in Municipal Stadium. Those windows over Locke's right shoulder look a lot like the ones in this one of Rocky Colavito.

The back is where this one shines (well it does to me, I love the 1960 cream/orange/black early series cardbacks. Locke had pitched for the Indians in 1959 after nearly five minor league seasons. The pix were likely taken that season.

Second year Bobby Locke, his 1961 card. It's a high number and cost more than the other put together. It's also my favorite. Note that the picture used is the same as the one in the 1960 'action' shot. more of those windows...Municipal Stadium. 

I'm not a fan of the green cardboard but you get full stats and two cartoons.

Now we are up to 1962. Same background. More than likely the same photo-shoot with the photographer getting his cap-less pic, just in case. With Locke now with the Cubs the cap-less shot came in handy. 

A nice play on his last name in the cartoon caption. Locke didn't make it out of Spring Training as a Cub. He had issues with the the weird 'College of Coaches' idea and he was dealt to the Cardinals in April. He was with them for three weeks before being traded to the Phils. He spent most of the season in the minors.

The '63 and '64 seasons were also mostly minor league years for Locke although he was around in September of '64 to watch the club blow it's big lead in the NL. After a couple of years off Topps' radar in October of '64 he was sold to the Angels. Topps pulled out their 'Locke' file and made him another card. He is listed with the Angels but he never played for them, at least in 1965. He was in the minors before he went to the Reds in a July deal. He pitched a bit in Cincinnati the second half of the year. 

He is obviously in his old Indians uni again here. Only the cap logo is scrubbed out. The pose is also exactly the same as his 1960 'action' shot. This picture is obviously from that same photo session. 

The '65 set rightfully holds a place dear to the hearts of many vintage collectors. It's about damn perfect.

After a couple more seasons spent mostly in the minors Locke appeared in the 1968 set. This is the same photo they'd used in 1962.  It's well within the range of possibility that Topps issued five separate Locke cards over the course of nine years using the pictures taken at one 1959 photo shoot!

He'd returned to the Angels' organization about a year after they had traded him to the Reds and in 1968 he pitched in 29 games, easily his most since 1961. Topps crammed a lot onto the backs of these '68s.

I have two more Locke cards from Topps. This is the 2017 signed Heritage done in the '68 style.

And I picked up another version of the '68, a buyback issued in 2015.

So that's my Bobby Locke 'rainbow'. I know that's not the right term for whatever you call a complete run of a guy's cards but whatever. Bobby turned 83 earlier this month. Here's to many more years of health and happiness with his family.

I found a few other Bobby Locke items including a couple of cool minor league oddballs. Those will hold for another day. Here is a montage of his Topps cardback cartoons:

Let's wrap this up with a handful of off-the-wall facts I found on his SABR bio page.:...

  • He debuted in the big leagues with a starting assignment against the Boston Red Sox on June 18 [1959], and in his second at-bat he hit his only major-league home run, a three-run shot off Frank Sullivan over Fenway Park’s Green Monster wall in left field. 
  • Locke was born on March 3, 1934, in the little town of Rowes Run in the rough mining country of Southwestern Pennsylvania about 40 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. He was one of ten kids in the family.
  • [In high school] he played fullback and defensive back in football and made several all-star teams. He excelled in baseball as a pitcher, throwing two no-hitters and averaging 13 strikeouts a game. His 1952 team went undefeated, and he pitched a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts to win the state championship. Locke played in the Sandlot Classic at the Polo Grounds in New York City as a member of the 1952 USA Baseball All-Star team.
  • Locke accepted a football scholarship to Arizona State University but returned home to focus on baseball early in his first gridiron season.
You can read the rest here.


  1. A cool little collection for sure, love that you found a buyback as well!

  2. Southwestern Pennsylvania has always been a high-school football hotbed (as I'm sure you know, being a Johnny U fan).

  3. Great stuff! Maybe it's my budget-minded viewpoint talking, but there's something that's just plain fun about a non-star player collection.

    ...Plus I appreciate knowing more about Bobby Locke, whose 1968 card has been in my collection for 40 years.