Cardinals legend, former Cub Lou Brock dies
Prolific base stealer came up with Cubs before trade in ’64
NEW YORK — Hall of Famer Lou Brock, one of baseball’s signature leadoff hitters and base stealers who helped the Cardinals win three pennants and two World Series titles in the 1960s, has died. He was 81.
Dick Zitzmann, Brock’s longtime agent and friend, confirmed Brock’s death on Sunday, but he said he couldn’t provide any details. Brock lost a leg from diabetes in recent years and was diagnosed with cancer in 2017.
“Lou Brock was one of the most revered members of the St. Louis Cardinals organization and one of the very best to ever wear the Birds on the Bat,” Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a release. “He will be deeply missed and forever remembered.”
Brock started his career with the Cubs in 1961 and played there until June 15, 1964, when general manager John Holland traded him (along with Jack Spring and Paul Toth) to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio (and Bobby Shantz, and Doug Clemens) in what is generally considered the worst trade in baseball history.
Brock finished his 19-year career with a .293/.343/.410 slash line and 3,023 hits, 149 homers, 900 RBI and 938 stolen bases, including 118 in 1974. The stolen-base totals were both records until they were broken by Rickey Henderson. Broglio, who went 18-8 with a 2.99 ERA with the Cardinals in 1963, made 33 starts in 1964-66 with the Cubs, going 7-19 with a 5.40 ERA. His ongoing arm problems, which the Cardinals were aware of at the time of the trade, proved to be his undoing.
“Lou was an outstanding representative of our national pastime, and he will be deeply missed,” baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a release.
Along with starter Bob Gibson and center fielder Curt Flood, Brock was an anchor for the Cardinals
as their combination of speed, defense and pitching made them a top team in the ’60s and a symbol of the National League’s more aggressive style at the time in comparison to the American League.
The Cardinals were World Series champions in 1964 and 1967 and lost to the Tigers in seven games in 1968. Opposing teams were warned to keep Brock off base, especially in the low-scoring years of 1967-68 when a single run often could win a game. But the speedy left fielder with the popup slide was a consistent base-stealing champion and run producer.
Brock led the league in steals eight times and scored 100 or more runs seven times.
Brock was even better in postseason play, batting .391 with four homers, 16 RBI and 14 steals in 21 World Series games. He had a record-tying 13 hits in the 1968 World Series, and in Game 4 homered, tripled and doubled as the Cardinals trounced the Tigers and 31-game winner Denny McLain 10-1.
Brock never played in another World Series after 1968, but remained a star for much of the last 11 years of his career.
He was so synonymous with base stealing that in 1978 he became the first major-leaguer to have an award named for him while still active — the Lou Brock Award, for the National League’s leader in steals.
Brock closed out his career in 1979 by batting .304, making his sixth All-Star Game appearance and winning the Comeback Player of the Year award. The team retired his uniform number, 20, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985 in his first year of eligibility.
The seventh of nine children, Brock was born in El Dorado, Arkansas, and grew up in a fourbedroom shack in rural Collinston, Louisiana. A star athlete in high school, he was accepted into Southern University on a workstudy scholarship, nearly failed, but remained with the college when a baseball tryout led to an athletic scholarship. Brock signed with the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 1960, made his majorleague debut late in the following season and was in the starting lineup by 1962.
ABOVE: The Cubs and Cardinals observed a moment of silence for Lou Brock before their game Sunday night at Wrigley Field. LEFT: Brock still holds the National League record with 938 stolen bases (888 with the Cards). BELOW: Lou Brock reached the majors in 1961 and started for the Cubs from 1962 to ’64 before being traded.