Wichita State Shockers

Two-sport Wichita State great, Don Lock, dies at 81

Shocker Hall of Fame member and former major league baseball player Don Lock works on his farm in 1996.
Shocker Hall of Fame member and former major league baseball player Don Lock works on his farm in 1996. File photo

Don Lock, a two-sport standout athlete at the University of Wichita in the 1950s, died on Sunday. He was 81.

Lock, a 1954 Kingman High graduate, was best known for his baseball career, as he was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1958, made his major-league debut with the Washington Senators, and enjoyed an eight-year professional career. He also played basketball at WU under coach Ralph Miller and was a teammate to Cleo Littleton.

“Don was a great competitor and was a guy who didn’t know how to lose,” said Jim McNerney, a basketball teammate of Lock. “He was a person everybody respected and loved. Don was a giver, not a taker.”

McNerney was a teammate with Lock for one season at WU; McNerney was a senior, while Lock was a freshman who couldn’t play varsity that season. But Lock’s competitive spirit made such an impression on McNerney that the two became lifelong friends.

After Lock’s playing days, he moved back to Kingman County and remained in close touch with McNerney. The two had a standing lunch date every Thursday.

“We had lunch this past Thursday and he’s been fighting this sickness for many months now and we could tell Thursday he wasn’t going to be around a lot longer,” McNerney said. “But even then, he was still the same Don. People would still come up and want to talk to him.”

In his playing days, Lock was a 6-foot-2, 195-pound center fielder. He finished sixth in the American League with 27 home runs in 1963, then followed it up with 28 home runs the next season. He led the American League in outfield assists and putouts in 1963, as well. Lock played for the Senators, Phillies and Red Sox in his eight-year career.

After retiring in 1969, Lock became a manager at the minor-league level.

McNerney enjoyed watching Lock play in the major leagues and although Lock wasn’t a graceful basketball player, he saw many of the same qualities that translated over to his baseball success.

“When you play sports, you can always pick out the guys you want to go to war with and Don was one of those guys,” said McNerney. “He didn’t play for the fun of it. He played to win. He’s going to be missed and you can’t replace a guy like that.”

Lock was inducted into the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974, the Wichita State Sports Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame this month.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Agnes, and his wife, Delores. He is survived by his son Deron Lock of Derby and daughter Dina Davis of Ellsworth. Services will be at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church in Kingman.

Taylor Eldridge: 316-268-6270, @vkeldridge