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About Gene

Photo of fine artist and former Yankee, Gene Locklear
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“Gene Locklear is a man who works with his hands, his heart and his soul.”
Dr. Martin Brooks
MEDICAL DOCTOR & FRIEND.
I strive to be who the Creator has created me to be. I pray that in the end He will say ‘Well done’
Gene's Artwork

Gene started painting very early in life. As a 6-year-old in art class, he knew he wanted to be an artist. He continued to paint throughout his baseball career because he needed the extra source of income. He sold his early works for as little as $20 in order to put gas in his car. Finally, after fighting for playing time and dealing with prejudices, he quit baseball and concentrated on art.

Throughout his lengthy career as an artist, Gene has produced huge murals and framed pieces of all sizes. He has painted images on media as small as baseballs and wine bottle labels.

He continues to produce works of art in oils, acrylics, and pencil. As you will see by looking at the images included on this site,  his styles include realism, impressionism and abstract. His subjects often include Native American and Western figures and landscapes, professional athletes from countless sports, and animals. His non-commissioned works currently consist mainly of modern abstract images.

Gene believes that as a result of his many years of painting he has learned to paint “from the inside out.” His images are conceptualized in his heart and soul.

Indeed, many patrons find deep meaning in Gene's artwork. There is little doubt: Gene is a bright, colorful and loving soul - and it shows in his powerful, moving art.

Gene's Family and youth

Proud to be... Lumbee

In Robeson County, North Carolina, nearly 40% of the population is Lumbee, a people whose origins have prompted many theories. They are Indians, but the uniqueness and complexity of this identity have made it the subject of numerous books and studies. Another part of Lumbee history is the tribe’s quest for full Federal recognition.

As Gene said in 1971, “We never have lived on a reservation. We’re not supported by the government. We have our own farms.”

‍In 1976 he added, “Reservation life degrades you. It limits everything. It’s like putting a dog in a cage.”

G

ene's mother and father were members of the Lumbee people. His dad, Lonnie, was a tobacco farmer, and Gene worked the fields with him. (Gene's painting titled "The Tobacco Farm" hung in the Whitehouse during the Ford administration.)

Gene was in the Army in 1970, missing half of his first season of baseball for the Reds. His military career was short, however, as Gene's father sadly passed away and Gene was discharged for hardship.

A Passion for Art - and Baseball

Even as a very young man, Gene loved to paint and play ball. They didn't have Little League in those days, so Gene played with adults in his tribe until he was old enough to join the high school team. The high school didn't have an art teacher, so he took a correspondence course.

In 1985, he said, “I loved to paint and I loved to play ball. If you had asked me when I was 6 or 7 what I was going to do, that’s what I would have told you. I’d do both. As a kid from a small country town, I figured my chances of becoming a ballplayer were probably something like one in a million. I had the common sense to realize I’d better have something to fall back on. So I painted.”

Gene Locklear, New York Yankee 1976-1977
Gene Locklear played for the New York Ynkees 1976-1977

Baseball

Gene Locklear was the first member of the Lumbee people of Robeson County, North Carolina, to play in the majors. Gene was recruited for the Cincinnati Reds in 1969 about a year after finishing high school.

Cincinnati Reds 1969-1975
After going to a Cincinnati tryout camp in Hope Mills, N.C., Gene was signed as a free agent by Bill Jamison, who also signed Dan Driessen at the same time.
San Diego Padres 1975-1976
On June 12, the Reds sent Locklear, Mike Johnson, and cash to the San Diego Padres for Fred Norman. Gene hit .240 in 67 games with the Padres, backing up Leron Lee in left field. Dave Winfield, a rookie that year, also started frequently in left from mid-June onward. Locklear hit his first of nine big-league homers on August 3 at Atlanta off Ron Schueler. That October, he commented, “The Reds told me I would get a chance to play every day with San Diego, and that pleased me
New York Yankees 1976-1977
On July 10, San Diego sent Gene to the New York Yankees. Gene played in 13 games with the Bombers and hit .219, mainly as a designated hitter.

His single-game highlight came on July 14, 1977: four homers as the designated hitter at Columbus. In fact, he almost hit a fifth, which would have set an International League record, but it was caught at the wall in center field.

His last appearance in the majors in the last regular-season game on October 2, 1977

in 1978 Gene wound up playing in Japan, where the salaries were often the best available at that time.

In February 1979, the Reds invited Gene to spring training as a non-roster player. He was there until the last round of cuts, but when Cincinnati released him, he retired.

More About Gene's Baseball Career
Gene Locklear Fine Art

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