Lou Brock 1966 #125
by William Szczepanek
Lou Brock played for 19 years primarily for the St. Louis Cardinals after a 3-year stint with the Chicago Cubs. In 1964, during that chaotic time when the Cubs did not have a true manager, but a College of Coaches, the Cubs traded Brock in a 6-player trade for Ernie Broglio, a highly successful Cardinal pitcher. Brock was hitting .251 for the Cubs when he was traded to the eighth-place Cardinals. He went on to hit .348, steal 38 bases and lead them to a championship that year. Ernie Broglio never had another winning season.
A .293 lifetime hitter Brock would steal 938 bases and would break Ty Cobb's record. Brock supplanted Maury Wills as the premier base stealer and went on to lead the National League in stolen bases eight out of nine years between 1966 and 1974. In 1967 he would become the first player to hit 20 home runs and steal 50 bases. In 1974 he would break Maury Wills' single-season record by stealing 118 bases. A 6-time All Star Brock would finish second in the MVP balloting in 1974 to Steve Garvey.
"Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time." ─ Lou Brock
In his rookie season of 1962 for the Cubs, he became one of four players to hit a ball into the centerfield bleachers at the old Polo Grounds in New York. Joe Adcock did it first in 1953. Hank Aaron did it the day after Brock accomplished the feat. Babe Ruth was the first to hit a ball that distance in the Polo grounds, but it was before the bleachers were constructed. Brock obviously had power, but never really was a home run hitter, getting only 149 in his career. He would forego hitting home runs in order to get on base to steal. His 3,023 hits gave him ample opportunity to steal bases. He finished his career at age 40 in 1979 hitting .304.
"We have to make some radical move to get the attention of everyone. Cheaters can't win and steroids has put us in the position that it's OK to cheat." ─ Lou Brock
My memory of Lou Brock was after a game with the Giants on a cold, clammy day in Wrigley Field. Willie Mays and the Giants had just beaten the Cubs and for some reason I sat in my grandstand seat and watched as the coaches hit fly balls to Brock in right field. Brock had trouble tracking the balls in the wind and often charged balls that were hit over his head. It was a few days after that the Brock was traded. Honestly at the time it seemed like a really good trade for the Cubs. In retrospect I don't think it was as much a Brock-Broglio thing as it was a Cubs-Cardinals thing. In Wrigley Field Brock would have probably been encouraged to hit for power, not have the opportunity to steal and not have become the player he actually did become, unless he could have hung in there until Leo Durocher showed up in 1966.
Ahhh, the what-ifs.
Brock was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.
You can check out Brock's statistics at Baseball Reference.com.