Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock, a speedster who ignited the St. Louis Cardinals’ offense from his leadoff spot and led the franchise to three World Series during the 1960s, died Sunday. He was 81.
Brock, who played 19 seasons in the major leagues from 1961 to 1979, was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1985. When he retired, Brock held the single-season record for stolen bases with 118 in 1974 and also owned the career mark with 938.
Brock finished his career with 3,023 hits, the 14th major leaguer to achieve the feat.
But Brock may be best known as being the key player in one of baseball’s most lopsided trades, although it did not appear to be at the time. On June 15, 1964, the Cardinals acquired Brock from the Chicago Cubs for Ernie Broglio, who had won 18 games for the Cardinals in 1963, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“I guess that fewer than 2% of the people in baseball thought it was a good trade for us,” said Cardinals third baseman Ken Boyer, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“We thought it was the worst trade ever,” fellow Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, the ace of the Cardinals’ pitching staff, told the Post-Dispatch.
“We were so close to Broglio,” catcher Tim McCarver told the newspaper. “Our friendship blinded us to what kind of effect Lou would have on the team — until we saw him run.”
After his trade to St. Louis, Brock hit .348 with 12 homers, 44 RBI and 33 stolen bases in 103 games as the Cardinals won the National League pennant on the final day of the regular season, ESPN reported. The Cardinals beat the New York Yankees in seven games.
In the 1967 World Series, Brock batted .414, had 12 hits and stole seven bases as the Cardinals defeated the Boston Red Sox in seven games. The following year, Brock had 13 hits in a losing effort as St. Louis lost the World Series to the Detroit Tigers in seven games.
In 1974, Brock broke Maury Wills’ single-season record with 118 stolen bases and passed Ty Cobb’s career mark of 892 in 1977.
“Base running arrogance is just like pitching arrogance or hitting arrogance,” Brock once said. “You are a force and you have to instill you are a force in the opposition.”
Louis Clark Brock was born June 18, 1939, in El Dorado, Arkansas. He played college baseball at Southern University before signing with the Cubs as an amateur free agent in 1960, the Hall of Fame said. He became a starter in the Cubs’ outfield in 1962.
Brock had his left leg amputated below the knee in 2015 due to complications from diabetes, ESPN reported. In 2017, the Cardinals announced that Brock had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.