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Lou Brock

A photo of Lou Brock.

Louis Clark "Lou" Brock (June 18, 1939 – September 6, 2020) was an American player in Major League Baseball. Brock was a left fielder who played his career with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. He batted and threw left-handed. He was a special instructor coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Early life[]

Brock was born in El Dorado, Arkansas and played college baseball at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He signed with the Cubs as an amateur free agent and broke into the Majors in 1961.

Brock for Broglio[]

Brock was blessed with great speed and baserunning instincts, but the young right fielder failed to impress the Cubs management. In 1964 after losing patience with his development, the Cubs gave up on Brock and made him part of a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals. The June 15 deadline deal for pitcher Ernie Broglio saw Brock, Jack Spring and Paul Toth head to St. Louis for Broglio, Bobby Shantz, and Doug Clemens. Cardinals general manager Bing Devine, specifically sought Brock at the insistence of Cardinals' manager Johnny Keane to increase team speed and solidify the Cardinals' lineup, struggling after the retirement of left fielder Stan Musial in 1963. At the time, many thought the deal was a heist for the Cubs. Ernie Broglio had led the National League in wins four years earlier, and had won 18 games in 1963.

After Brock was traded to the Cardinals, his career turned around significantly. He moved to left field and batted .348 and stole 38 bases for the Cardinals in the remainder of the 1964 season. At the time of the trade, the Cardinals were 28-31, in eighth place in the National League, trailing even the Cubs, who were 27-27 and in sixth place. Four months to the day later, the Cardinals would win the 1964 World Series in seven games over the favored New York Yankees, who were appearing in their fourteenth World Series in sixteen years (and their last until a dozen years later), helped in part by Brock's rejuvenated bat. Meanwhile, Broglio won only seven games for the Chicago Cubs before retiring from baseball after the 1966 season. To this day, the trade of Brock for Broglio is considered one of the most lopsided deals in baseball history. It is considered by many Cubs fans to be the worst in franchise history (dating back to 1876).

During his career, Brock helped the Cardinals to National League pennants in 1964, 1967, and 1968 and to World Series championships in 1964 and 1967, defeating the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, respectively, both times in seven games. The Cardinals suffered one World Series loss during Brock's tenure. That was in 1968 against the Detroit Tigers - the Tigers rallied from down three games to one behind the excellent pitching of Mickey Lolich.

Facts and Stats[]

In 1967, Brock became the first player to steal 50 bases and hit 20 home runs in the same season.

His supreme talent for basestealing perhaps overshadowed his fine hitting, as he collected 3,023 hits in his career. He was also not particularly known as a power hitter, but he did display significant "pop" from time to time. In David Halberstam's book, "October 1964", the author states that manager Johnny Keane asked Brock to forgo the power game in favor of the speed game. However, Brock got some licks in, here and there.

In his rookie season (1962), Brock became one of three players to hit a home run into the center-field bleachers at the old Polo Grounds in New York since its 1923 reconstruction. His blast came against Al Jackson in the second game of a June 17 doubleheader against the New York Mets and would be followed by Hank Aaron's shot the very next day. Joe Adcock was the first to hit a ball over that wall, in 1953. Babe Ruth had reached the old bleachers (a comparable distance) before the reconstruction.

In 1967, Brock hit 5 home runs in the first 4 games of the season, becoming the first player to do so. It led to him being chosen by the players as a starting 1967 All-Star Game outfielder ahead of Willie Mays.

Brock remained best known for base-stealing and starting Cardinals rallies. He was said to have disdained Maury Wills' method of base-stealing, instead shortening his leads and going hard into second base, thus inflicting punishment on opposing players rather than himself by having to dive back into first base frequently. He was also an early student of game films. He used an 8mm movie camera from the dugout to film opposing pitchers and study their windups and pickoff moves to detect weaknesses he could exploit.

In a unique (if incidental) accomplishment, Brock was the first player ever to bat in a major league regular season game in Canada. He led off the April 14, 1969 game against the Montreal Expos at Jarry Park by lining out to second baseman Gary Sutherland. The Expos' pitcher, Larry Jaster, was a teammate of Brock's just the year before, and had been selected in the expansion draft by the Expos after the 1968 season.

His best batting average was in 1964, when he batted .315, one of eight years he batted over .300, he was a 6-time National League All-Star, he led the league in runs two times (1967 and 1971),led the league in doubles (46 in 1968), and led the league in triples (14 in 1968).

Brock held the record for career stolen bases (938) until it was broken by Rickey Henderson. In 1974 he stole a major-league record 118 bases (breaking Maury Wills' record of 104 in 1962; Brock's single-season record was also later broken by Henderson). Brock led the National League in stolen bases eight times between 1966 and 1974 (former teammate Bobby Tolan led the league in steals in 1970). According to research by The Society For American Baseball Research, Brock stole home only twice in his career- both times on the front end of double steals, 1964 (with Cubs) and 1970 (with Cardinals).

Overall, Brock batted .293 in 19 seasons, amassing a total of 3023 hits.

Awards, honors and life after baseball[]

Brock won the 1967 National League Babe Ruth Award, the 1974 Major League Player of the Year Award, the 1975 Roberto Clemente Award, the 1977 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, and the 1979 Hutch Award.

Brock was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985 in his first year on the ballot, along with relief pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm. His number 20 was retired by the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1999, he ranked Number 58 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

After retiring from baseball, Brock prospered as a businessman, especially as a florist in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Lou Brock is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. Brock still regularly appears at Cardinals games. When he steps onto the field he is always greeted by a loud, low-pitched cheer of "Loooouuuuuuuuuuuu". This may sound like "Boooo" to those unfamiliar with the team, and the town's love for Lou Brock.

Brock also lent his name to a unique rainhat, shaped like a miniature umbrella and to be worn at games during showers in lieu of retreating to the concourse. The product was called the "Brockabrella". There is no indication whether its name was in any way influenced by Brock's contemporary, utility man John Boccabella.

Brock and his wife are both ordained ministers serving at Abundant Life Fellowship Church in St. Louis.[1]

Brock's speed was referenced in the song Check the Rhime by the pioneering "jazz rap" hip-hop ensemble A Tribe Called Quest.

On December 5, 2006 he was recognized for his accomplishments on and off of the field when he received the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

Brock is the father of former USC Trojan and NFL player Lou Brock Jr.

Even though his stolen base record has been surpassed, the National League honors each stolen base leader with the Lou Brock award.

Personal life and death[]

Brock's left leg was amputated below the knee in October 2015 because of an infection related to a diabetic condition.

Brock announced on April 13, 2017, that he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that starts in the bone marrow's plasma cells.

Brock died on September 6, 2020 at the age of 81.

See also[]

Lou Brock was also mentioned in Everlast's "Whitey Ford Sings the Blues" and A Tribe Called Quest's "Check The Rhyme"

One of his most famous sayings was "Show me a guy who is afraid to look bad and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time."

External links[]