Lou Brock's Top 10 moments

September 7th, 2020

At the 1964 Trade Deadline, the St. Louis Cardinals exchanged right-hander Ernie Broglio, who won 60 games over the previous four seasons, for .251-hitting Chicago Cubs outfielder Lou Brock in a six-player deal. Nearly everybody dismissed the swap as a steal for the Cubs.

The deal indeed proved to be lopsided -- but the only man doing any stealing was Brock.

St. Louis manager Johnny Keane believed that Brock’s remarkable speed, which the Cubs had failed to utilize, could make him a dynamo akin to Los Angeles’ Maury Wills. Brock indeed galvanized the Cardinals, an eighth-place team upon his arrival. They surged to the National League pennant and a seven-game triumph in the World Series.

Brock maintained his momentum after that season, leading the National League in thefts in every year but one from 1966-74. Brock eclipsed Wills’ single-season mark for steals in '74 and broke Ty Cobb’s all-time record in that category in '77. Brock also amassed more than 190 hits for six consecutive seasons beginning in ‘69. Generating all that offense made him a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 1985.

In honor of Brock, who passed away at the age of 81, here’s a look at his top 10 performances:

1. Gotcha, Maury …
Sept. 10, 1974

Brock maintained peak efficiency by stealing 39 bases in his first 41 attempts of the 1974 season. Talk of his threatening Wills’ single-season mark of 104 set in 1962 got serious at the All-Star break, which Brock reached with 60 thefts in 73 tries. As if to signal his intent, Brock christened September with a season-high four steals at San Francisco to hike his total to 98. He reached the century mark on Sept. 6 against Mets right-hander Harry Parker, and he had 103 steals entering the Sept. 10 finale of an eight-game homestand. Brock thrilled the locals by singling and stealing second base in the first and seventh innings off Phillies right-hander Dick Ruthven. He finished the year with 118 steals.

2. … and you too, Ty
Aug. 29, 1977

Brock resumed his record pursuit as he entered the 1977 season with 865 steals, tantalizingly close to the lifetime mark of 892, which had stood since Cobb's retirement following the '28 campaign. Trailing Cobb by one when this game vs. the Padres began, Brock sliced the drama in half by drawing a first-inning walk from Friars starter Dave Freisleben and pilfering second base. Brock set up his grand theft in the seventh, as he reached base against Freisleben on a fielder’s-choice grounder before successfully dashing to second. Some statistical sources credit Cobb with 897 steals, but Brock rendered that moot by finishing his career in 1979 with 938.

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3. The man could hit as well as run
Aug. 13, 1979

Brock became the 14th player in Major League history -- and the second Cardinal, joining Stan Musial, of course -- to collect 3,000 hits. Brock singled twice off Chicago Cubs right-hander Dennis Lamp to reach the milestone at Busch Stadium. Fittingly, Musial was on hand to present the historic baseball to Brock, who finished his career with 3,023 hits.

4. Typically terrific
Oct. 6, 1968

Brock’s .391 World Series batting average is the highest among all players who have appeared in at least 20 Fall Classic games. His 14 Series stolen bases constitute another record. He sustained his most prolific October effort against Detroit in Game 4 of the 1968 World Series. Brock went 3-for-5 with four RBIs while recording a double, triple and a homer. For good measure, he also added a stolen base. St. Louis prevailed, 10-1, to assume a 3-1 Series lead. But Detroit stormed back to win the next three games and dethrone the defending-champion Cards.

5. Almost every game was his best game
Oct. 4, 1967

Then again, maybe this was Brock’s top Series showing. In the opener at Boston, Brock went 4-for-4 and scored both runs in St. Louis’ 2-1 triumph. He broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning after drilling a leadoff single and stealing second base, which set up groundouts by Curt Flood and Roger Maris that pushed him across. The Cardinals went on to win the World Series in seven games.

6. Starting a trend
June 23, 1964

A week after Brock joined the Cardinals, he demonstrated what his arrival could mean for the ballclub. His impact was not readily apparent in the box score, but it was obvious for eyewitnesses. In the first inning against Houston, Brock stole second base, advanced to third on an accompanying throwing error by Colt .45s catcher John Bateman and ultimately scored the initial run in a three-run outburst. Later, with the score tied, Tim McCarver on third and two outs in the seventh inning, Brock hit a chopper in front of home plate that first baseman Rusty Staub mishandled in his haste for an error. McCarver scored what proved to be the winning run.

7. Setting the pace
Oct. 7, 1964

Brock led the Cardinals’ late-season charge to the NL championship by batting .348 and scoring 81 runs in only 103 games after they acquired him. He maintained his gusto while establishing the tone for the World Series in the first inning of Game 1 by dashing from first base to third on Dick Groat’s single to right field, where Mickey Mantle was playing. Once upon a time, nobody would have challenged Mantle’s throwing arm. Brock, who proceeded to score the game’s first run, demonstrated that the Cardinals would play aggressively against the once-mighty Yankees.

8. Classic combo: power & speed
Sept. 26, 1967

When Brock went deep twice on this afternoon at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, he hiked his home run total to 21, making him the first player in history to hit at least 20 homers and amass 50 stolen bases in the same season. Big leaguers who later duplicated Brock’s feat included Brady Anderson, Barry Bonds, Cesar Cedeno, Eric Davis, Joe Morgan and Ryne Sandberg.

9. Secret slugger
June 17, 1962

Though Brock reached double figures in home runs only seven times in his career, he packed a wicked punch. On this date, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Mets, he became only the third player to hit a home run to center field at New York’s Polo Grounds, following Babe Ruth and Joe Adcock. Hank Aaron would accomplish the feat one day after Brock, whose drive off Al Jackson was estimated to have traveled at least 475 feet.

10. All-Star adieu
July 17, 1979

Brock, who had announced that he would retire at the end of the season, was named an All-Star reserve by Los Angeles manager Tommy Lasorda, the NL skipper for the Midsummer Classic at Seattle’s Kingdome. It was Brock’s sixth career All-Star selection. He contributed a second-inning, pinch-hit single off Nolan Ryan that helped tie the game. The NL proceeded to win, 7-6.