|Year of Graduation:||1939-1943|
Maryville College’s reputation for a challenging education combined with a baseball program that had a quest for excellence attracted a young man from Blue Island, Illinois. Walter “Leslie” Rock wanted the direction from Legendary baseball coach Lombe Hoanker and once Honaker saw Rock’s athleticism the freshman baseball player was soon challenged to take his skills to the gridiron and wrestling mat.
Honaker’s hardballers took to the diamond in the fall of 1939. With a speedy and strong outfielder named Les Rock, the Scots finished with a 12-10 mark. The highlight of young Rock’s first collegiate season on the baseball field was their defeat of the University of Tennessee by the score of 7-4.
The fall of 1940 saw Coach Honaker put his plan to put Rock’s talents into motion. A quote from Coach Honaker in the Chilhowean stated, “Les Rock, new to football this year showed great promise in his speed and gameness.” The Scots went 5-5 in Les’ first season on the gridiron beating Hiwassee, Cumberland, Emory 7 Henry, and Tusculum while ringing the victory bell against King during MC’s Homecoming.
The spring saw Rock’s Scots claim the Smoky Mountain Championship with a 13-3 record. The offensive Scots drubbed Lincoln Memorial University 20-8 to close out the regular season.
Les’ junior campaign began with a fast free scoring attack on the football field. Maryville finished the season with an 8-1 record and Rock scored the lone MC touchdown of Maryville’s only loss of the season to King College.
Rock’s diamondmen captured 17 wins in 20 games as their hunger to score trickled over from the football season. Another quote from the Chilhowean stated, “the big guns in the Scotties attack of scoring over 200 runs were the booming bats of McGaha, Hughes, Craga, and Les Rock.”
The 1942 season brought a great deal of change to MC and its athletic program. This would be the last year of athletics for three seasons due to the pending World War II. Les Rock teamed with Jack Kramer during his senior season as Co-Captain and would lead the Scottie eleven to a 2-6 record. While being a standout on the Scots line had an opportunity to play with his younger brother Alan for the first time as a Highlander.
Rock finished his career in the spring with young Alan by his side on the diamond. The Scots took down the Vols twice en route to a 9-4 final record. This would be the last season of baseball on the hill until the 1947 spring due to the pending war.
This 1943 Maryville College graduate earned a degree in Economics. The war directed his post-graduate plans. Les enlisted in the United States Marine Corp and left the service as a captain. Walter retired 30 years later after teaching high school for three decades.
Ladies and gentlemen please allow me to introduce a legendary athlete all the way from Blue Island, Illinois 2009 MC Wall of Fame Inductee Walter “Leslie” Rock.