On September 6th we said goodbye to Lou Brock, long time left-fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, known for his speed and his ability to steal a base off almost any pitcher and catcher. In fact, at the time he retired he had the all-time single season and career stolen base record. He was one of my all-time favorite baseball players too, involved in the infamous trade for Ernie Broglio, who was a 21-game winner for the Cardinals. At the time it might have seemed the Cubs got the better end of the deal, but it proved to be one of the best Cardinal trades in history. As Brock went on to play 17 seasons with the Red Birds, collect over 3,000 hits and hit for a career .293 average.
I had the privilege of interviewing Brock on two separate occasions. The first time was in 1986, just after he had been elected to the Hall of Fame. He was very polite and friendly and humble. The second interview came right before the third Busch Stadium opened in 2004. The first interview was live and the second was recorded on the phone. Again the second time I found Lou to be polite and friendly, but as a retiree he seemed a little more opinionated. For instance, I asked him what he thought of the new stadium from a hitter’s standpoint and it caught me off guard when he said St. Louis didn’t really need another stadium, especially a launching pad like Busch III. He may have been alluding to the ease with which Albert Pujols could hit the ball out of the park, but it hasn’t proved to be a launching pad, or home run park. It ranks 21st for most home runs out of the 30 ball parks.
Even more than his performance on the field, it was his performance off the field, that often went unnoticed that told you what kind of person he was. He supported countless charities and he became a minister later in life. Through his church he was able to help even more people in the St. Louis area spiritually and financially.
Lou Brock was acquired to replace Stan Musial, If Stan was known as the man and the greatest Cardinal ever, Lou Brock is a close second. He too is immortalized in Bronze in St. Louis as his statue resides outside Bush Stadium.