St. Louis Cardinals' Hall of Famer Lou Brock, who had fought through a number of medical conditions in recent years, died Sunday afternoon. He was 81.
Brock will be remembered for many accomplishments. He was the National League’s all-time leader in stolen bases with 938. He had 3,023 hits. He was a first-ballot electee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
But he may be known mostly as the centerpiece of what was perceived as the greatest trade in Cardinals history. Or just greatest baseball trade ever. On June 15, 1964, the Cardinals acquired Brock, a raw, 24-year-old outfielder from the Chicago Cubs in a trade that cost them popular righthander Ernie Broglio, who had been an 18-game winner for them the prior season although he was 3-5 in 1964 and perhaps injured.
Immediately, the trade was not well received by the Cardinals’ players. "We thought it was the worst trade ever,” said Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson.
After all, Southern University product Brock had batted only .263, .258 and .251 in his 2 ½ years with the Cubs, albeit hitting some prodigious home runs, including one to dead center field in New York’s historic Polo Grounds.
But Brock, not counted on for power but as a table setter for the Cardinals, would hit .348 the rest of the 1964 season and steal 33 bases as the Cardinals rallied to win the National League pennant on the last day of the regular season
Lou Brock steals his 105th base, beating Philly Larry Bowa's tag as umpire John McSherry makes it official. Photo by Sam Leone/St. Louis Post-Dispatch