Lives of Brock, Seaver linked even at the end

September 7th, 2020

The baseball universe lost two of its greatest stars this week, with Hall of Famers Tom Seaver and Lou Brock passing away within six days of each other.

Both men were beloved for not only their legendary performances on the diamond, but also their integrity and ambassadorship off it. And both were connected in many ways that make the chronological proximity of their deaths even more poignant.

First of all, both were given the same nickname, one that underscored just how great they each were in their own way -- "The Franchise."

And the two Franchises met often over the years.

No batter faced Seaver more during his 20-year career than Brock did, and no pitcher faced Brock more during his 19-year career than Seaver did. The two faced off 157 times, with Brock going 38-for-152 (.250) with 10 doubles, two triples and a home run. Seaver struck out Brock 21 times and walked him four times.

Seaver once shared a great story about Brock that they both revisited every time the pair got together in Cooperstown for Hall of Fame festivities. It was from the 1967 All-Star Game at Anaheim Stadium, when a 22-year-old Seaver walked into the National League clubhouse for his first Midsummer Classic.

"I looked like I was about 17," Seaver said during an SNY interview. "[Brock] looked at me and said, 'Hey kid, get me a Coke.' And I said, 'Get your own bleeping coke. I'm on the team.' And he goes, 'Who are you?'"

The Seaver-Brock connection doesn't end there. When Seaver, after throwing five one-hitters during his career to that point, threw his only no-hitter on June 16, 1978, while with the Reds, he was facing Brock's Cardinals at Riverfront Stadium.

Brock was the leadoff hitter, and went 0-for-4 -- he grounded out to first base in the first inning, grounded out to second in the third, was retired on a foul popup down the left-field line in sixth and flied out to left for the first out of the ninth.

Seaver and Brock were also connected indirectly through pitcher Dennis Lamp, who spent 16 years in the big leagues. On Aug. 13, 1979, Brock singled off Lamp for the 3,000th hit of his career. Nearly five years later, after Lamp had been traded by the Cubs to the White Sox, the right-hander left Chicago and signed with the Blue Jays as a free agent in January 1984.

At the time, Major League Baseball had a free agent compensation draft, in which teams that lost "type A" players in free agency could draft a big-league caliber replacement from among those left unprotected by any other team. The Mets neglected to include Seaver among their 26 protected players, figuring no other team would claim a 39-year-old veteran, but the White Sox jumped at the chance to replace Lamp with Seaver.

These two baseball luminaries will be greatly missed, and though they have left us, we can still look back at the incredible way their careers intersected and marvel at their achievements both on and off the field.