As we close out this five-pack from John, we take a look at Ron Locke. This young lefty was born in Rhode Island, making him one of seventy-one major leaguers to hail from the tiny state. There's some surprising quality among the Rhode Island-born, including Rocco Baldelli, Gabby Hartnett, Paul Konerko, Nap Lajoie, Davey Lopes, and Clem Labine. Who'dathunkit?
Locke had a rapid ascent to the bigs, signing with the Mets as an amateur free agent in 1963 and burning up the New York-Penn League with and 18-8 won-lost record, 249 strikeouts, and a 2.94 ERA. The very next year, he was toeing the rubber in Shea Stadium. He started just three times in twenty-five games in New York, with a respectable 3.48 ERA. Despite his gaudy strikeout totals in the minors, he whiffed only 17 batters and walked 22 as a Met.
As quickly as Ron's major league career had begun, it was over. I couldn't find an explanation, but he was back in the minors in 1965, and spent the next five years bouncing between AA and AAA in the Mets organization. I did track down a firsthand account of Ron from a friend who describes him as a "hard throwing and hard drinking son of a gun". We should all hope to be remembered as such.
Fun fact: In Ron's lone major league win (2 ER on 5 H and 3 BB in 7 IP), he defeated Don Larsen, best known for tossing the only perfect game in World Series history.