Car­di­nals leg­end, for­mer Cub Lou Brock dies

Pro­lific base stealer came up with Cubs be­fore trade in ’64

Chicago Sun-Times - - NEWS - HILLEL ITALIE

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.

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