Gastonia and Gaston County has a history of World Series winners
By Richard Walker
As the World Series continues between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays, Gastonia and Gaston County certainly can celebrate its championship past in the Fall Classic.
Four former Gastonia Post 23 players have been on championship teams as well as Lowell native Carroll “Whitey” Lockman.
Tnterestingly, only one of the Post 23 champions got into World Series game action – George Wilson.
A 1942 Cherryville High graduate, Wilson played for New York Yankees 1956 World Championship team in a Fall Classic that featured 12 eventual Major League Baseball Hall of Famers – Yankees players Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle and Enos Slaughter, Yankees manager Casey Stengel, Dodgers players Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider and Dodgers manager Walter Alston.
And Wilson’s appearance came as a pinch-hitter for Ford during the Yankees’ 6-3 loss in the opening game of a World Series New York would win four games to three. The Yankees came back after losing the first two games of the World Series to win in a Fall Classic remembered most by eventual World Series most valuable player Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game Five.
In Gastonia, Wilson helped Post 23 go 38-10 and advance to an American Legion sectional tournament after winning the North Carolina state title and a regional title.
Signed as a free agent by the Boston Red Sox in 1942, Wilson later played for the Chicago White Sox, New York Giants, Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers organizations. He would play in the majors for the White Sox (1952), Giants (1953 and 1956) and Yankees (1956) and spent 16 years in the minor leagues before retiring after hitting .281 for Class AAA Denver in 1962.
The three other Gastonia Post 23 champions who never played in a World Series game were Harold Stowe for the 1961 New York Yankees, Jake Buchanan for the 2016 Chicago Cubs and Tyler White for the 2017 Houston Astros.
Stowe is Post 23’s all-time winningest pitcher (27-11 record from 1952 to 1954) and finished his Legion career by helping Gastonia to the 1954 American Legion World Series championship game. Stowe would go on to become a two-time ACC champion and two-time College World Series participant for Clemson; Both of the Tigers’ CWS appearances came after Stowe was a pitching star in district tournaments played at Gastonia’s Sims Legion Park.
A Yankees free agent signee in 1959, Stowe would spend three years on that organization’s major league roster but made only one pitching appearance. He spent seven seasons in the minor leagues, retiring after playing in 1964 for the Class AA Charlotte Hornets.
Buchanan is Gaston County’s all-time winningest high school pitcher with a 34-9 record for North Gaston from 2004 to 2007. He played for Post 23’s Eastern Division championship team in 2007 and spent three seasons at N.C. State before being an eighth-round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 2010.
A two-time minor league All-Star, Buchanan made his major league debut for the Astros in 2014 before later pitching for the Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, Oakland Athletics and Washington Nationals organizations. In 2016, he was a late-season call-up for the Cubs but was not placed on the postseason roster.
Tyler White is a 2009 graduate of Chase High in Rutherford County who played for Post 23 after getting releases from other area Legion teams to play for his father Brian White, who coached Gastonia’s Legion team from 2006 to 2009. A standout at Western Carolina, Tyler White also spent two summers playing for the Gastonia Grizzles’ Coastal Plain League team, including the 2011 championship team.
Drafted in the 33rd round of the 2013 major league draft, Tyler White was 2015 Minor League Baseball player of the year before making his major league debut in 2016 for the Astros. He spent all or parts of four seasons with the Astros before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2019 season.
Tyler White was on the Astros’ postseason roster during its 2017 ALDS win over the Boston Red Sox and spent the 2020 season playing in South Korea.
Lockman, who graduated from Gastonia High School in 1943, played Legion baseball that summer for Charlotte Post 9 before signing a free agent contract with the New York Giants.
Lockman broke into the major league leagues in 1945 and played 16 seasons with the Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds. In 1954, Lockman started all four games of the Giants’ four games to none sweep of the Cleveland Indians. Lockman later was a coach in the Reds, Giants and Cubs organizations and was the Cubs manager from 1972 to 1974. He also spent time in player development for the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins organizations.