Shadows start to creep up the southwest slope of Rattlesnake Mountain as Alan and Pam Locke settle into cushioned wooden chairs on their front porch. In a few minutes, their son, Jeff, will step on the mound at PNC Park, about 600 miles away, to pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers. But they have no plans to watch. "We don't even have the baseball channel," said Pam, a slender, middle-aged woman with long blonde hair. It's not that they aren't interested. In fact, they already had talked to Jeff on the phone earlier in the day, and their son gave them a scouting report on the only team to beat him this season. "Remember," Alan told his son, as he often does when the two are separated, "I'm always in your back pocket." Instead of watching Jeff pitch, Alan usually will sit in front of his modest wooden home and watch as cars pass. Or he'll chop wood, piles of which are twice his height and dot his yard. "I get too nervous," said Alan through a thick New England accent. Tattoos crawl up and down his arms, including a black and gold "P" on the inside of his wrist. For Jeff, this is home. And that word might mean more to him than it does any of his teammates. Cradled between peaks of the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire, Mount Washington Valley is like a painting lifted from the walls of an art museum. Those born here rarely leave. And those who visit never want to. "Are you kidding me?" Jeff said. "There's no reason to leave. It's like vacation all the time up there." He never took a plane ride until he visited Florida as a high school senior. He never left the Eastern time zone until he was 23, making his second major league start in California.
Pirates' Locke climbing to stardom in big leagues
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Jun 25