It is with great sadness that our Locker family announces the death of our beloved Bob Locker, our husband, father, and grandfather. It is hard to find the “right” words to tell the unique story that made Bob so special and so loved. He passed peacefully at home on Monday, August 15, 2022 at 84 years old. (We think he left this world in search of a greater trout stream and happy hunting). Bob was born on March 15, 1938, in George, Iowa, the second son of Henry William and Northa Awtry Locker. The Lockers grazed cattle and grew corn on land they owned just at the edge of town. Today, an industrial park in George has been named in honor of Bob and his family.
After graduating from George High, he enrolled at Iowa State University and made the varsity on both basketball and baseball teams. He graduated with a degree in geology from ISU in 1960 and was a member of the Phi Delta Phi fraternity. Bob always credited his ISU coach as the person who taught him the most about baseball. With Cap Timm’s guidance, he worked on his mechanics and grips, shortened his stride and learned to hang onto the ball longer before releasing a pitch. This pitch was the first major league caliber sinker, described as “explosive”. Tall (6 ft. 2) and lean (180) and coming from a heavily scouted program, Locker was courted by three major-league organizations by the end of his fourth year in college. In 1960 he joined the Lincoln Chiefs, the Chicago White Sox affiliate in Class B. Bob was a graduate of ISU and a member of the Iowa Hall of Fame. As an undergraduate, he participated in the Army ROTC and in 1963 he fulfilled his duty in the Army and left with an honorable discharge as 1St Lieutenant. He sat out 1974 to undergo surgery to remove bone chips from his pitching elbow. Before the 1975 season, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for his final season.
Between 1965 and 1975 Bob had a major league career as a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, Seattle Pilots, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs. His all-time record was over 600 games, 57 wins, 36 losses, 95 saves, with a career ERA, 2.75. When someone asked how he could be so successful every time he was on the mound, he said “I was successful because I avoided slumps. Other than the start of 1969, when I had surgery, I never had a bad year, I never let a bad outing become a bad week. l never let a bad month become a bad year, I always fought back”.
During his career, he locked up two World Series wins with the Oakland Athletics. Bob’s consistency and durability became synonymous. He was a personable and caring autograph signer who actually talked to fans during and after games. When Bob arrived at the A’s, he was a veteran and he outworked the young guys, inspiring then to reach their ultimate potential.
After his baseball career, he became devoted to petitioning the commissioner’s office and players union to aid old time ballplayers (those before the 1947 season and without 4 years of service). They were barely surviving with a $500 per month pension. That group, most in their late 80”s had dwindled to fewer than 50 players. Bob was one who was a tireless champion for the Old Timers. He sat out the 1974 to undergo surgery to remove bone chips from his pitching elbow. Before the 1975 season, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs for his final season.
He moved his family to Oakland and planned to live and work there after his final season. He and his wife Judy returned to the Bay Area, where they raised their four children. He built a second career in real estate. Judy was a very talented interior designer by then, so they did their respective career things, but combined to design and complete a big number of remodel and new homes in the Lafayette, California area. After 40 great years in the Bay Area, they retired to Montana, so happy to be among the fishermen and hunters and the beauty of the state.
He filled his days with inventing and writing and outdoor sports and created the web site ThanksMarvin.com in tribute to Marvin Miller. Marvin served to be the Executive Director of Players for the Major League Baseball League. He was known to give player’s their free agency. Bob was highly regarded as an offbeat, independent thinker and went on to be a strong supporter of Marvin Miller’s and proceed to help him get into the Hall of Fame.
In the late 2000’s, he became an inventor of fishing tackle, etc. and taught himself to be a writer. He wrote two books, Cows Vote, Too, in 2013 and Esteem Yourself in the following year, which was meant to inspire young people. One of his quotes in the book is, “Self-esteem permeates all the other things that help you be successful”.
Bob is preceded in death by his mother and father, Northa Locker and Henry William Locker, his mother-in-law and father in-law, Evelyn June Klinkenborg and Richard William Swalve, his brother, John Henry Locker and his wife Joanne Salamida Locker and brother in-law Richard Rae Swalve (Dick). Also, sadly lost was Shaun and his wife, Christy’s first baby, Cedar Synapu Locker.
He is survived by his loving wife Judy and children, and so proud of his children Mark Brady, Shaun Jeffries, and the twins Rory Michele and Ryan Christopher, and the grandchildren Trinity Rae Locker, Jesse Locker, Dallas Awtry McClung, Lucas Avery McClung, and Everett Jeffries McClung. Also, in the family are our loved “bonus” children from Bob’s brother John and sister-in-law, Joanne, now deceased. These children are John Henry Locker Jr., Kirsten Massa and Dana Locker., all living in the Michigan area. The grandchildren are Awtry Joanne Massa, Ella Cecilia Massa, John Henry Locker 2nd and Sofia Francesca Locker. Bob was a loving and generous father and grandfather to all of his children and grandchildren. Everyone always loved to come to the Big Hat Ranch that we purchased in 2004.He had many friends around the country and a wonderful family…we all loved him and will miss him, immensely. The pain and suffering is gone, he is in comfort and peace.
A Celebration of Life will be held at the family home at 1705 Durston Road, Bozeman, Montana, on September 17, 2022 at 3:00 P.M.
Bob, see you soon in the “Field of Dreams”…if you’re not fishing!
“Those we love don’t go a way, they walk beside us every day unseen,
unheard, but always near, still loved, still missed and forever dear.”