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MLB Legends: Lou Brock

El Dorado, Arkansas is home to roughly less than twenty thousand people as it was shown in the 2012 census. There are several noteworthy people who call El Dorado home, but not many of them are known to people outside of Arkansas. The two biggest names which I can figure out who they are without doing research on are Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lou Brock who is also a Hall of Famer. Lou Brock is going to be the focus of this edition as we will be looking at how you have this man come from humble beginnings living in El Dorado, Arkansas to become a baseball legend and an eventual Hall of Famer. I had said this with the other MLB Legends I had covered that when Lou Brock played, you could not get away with playing mediocre.

Lou Brock was born on June 13, 1939 in El Dorado, Arkansas to a family of sharecroppers. In case you were wondering, Sharecropping is a system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops. It should be noted that he would only spend the first two years of his life in EL Dorado because when he was two his family would move to Collinston, Louisiana. He has also said a countless amount of times that while his family did not have a lot of money, he never felt poor. He felt this because, “If you don’t have something, you don’t miss it.”

If you remember back to when I did my piece on New York Yankees legend, Mickey Mantle who grew up in the Midwest and was a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, Lou Brock also grew up in the Midwest but was a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was a fan of them when Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe, and Roy Campanella played for them. Lou Brock didn’t play in organized baseball until 11th grade, but in interviews has credited learning about baseball from Cardinals radio broadcaster Harry Caray.

The baseball world would get their first glimpse of the future Hall of Famer on September 10, 1961, when he would make his debut for the Chicago Cubs at the age of 22. During his rookie season in 1962, he would become one of four players to hit a homer into the center-field bleachers at the old Polo Grouds in New York. The other three players who accomplished this feat was Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock, and Babe Ruth. However, when Babe Ruth did, it was before the 1923 construction.

Although Lou Brock did not have the power like other hitters in his era did, he was blessed to have great speed and base running instincts. However, this would not impress the Cubs management as Lou Brock was only able to hit a combined .260 batting average over his first two seasons. During the 1964 season, the Cubs had run out of patience with Lou’s development and made him a part of a trade with one of the Chicago Cubs biggest rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Chicago Cubs would send Lou Brock, Jack Spring, and Paul Toth to the Cardinals and in return the Cardinals would send Ernie Broglio, Bobby Shantz, and Doug Clemens.

It would be revealed that Lou Brock was a part the of the deal because of the Cardinals manager, Johnny Keane, thought he would add to the team’s speed and help solidify their lineup. What should be noted is that the Cardinals lineup was struggling after the retirement of left fielder Stan Musial in 1963. One thing that is seen in baseball on a constant basis is a change of place could do wonders for a player’s career. In the case of Lou Brock, a change of place was what he needed because he would end up getting better numbers for the Cardinals.

Lou Brock would be able to experience his first World Series rather quickly as the Cardinals went on to the 1964 World Series against the New York Yankees and would win that World Series. During Lou’s tenure with the St. Louis Cardinals, they would go on to win another fall classic in 1967. There have been lists done on the most lopsided trades in MLB history and the Brock for Broglio trade still considered to be one of the most lopsided deals.

Lou Brock would end up playing eighteen seasons between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. During that run, he would end up hitting 149 homers ( 20 with the Chicago Cubs and 129 with the St. Louis Cardinals), and have 900 runs batted in ( 86 with the Cubs and 814 with the Cardinals). He would also end up being a six-time All-Star and the recipient of several awards like the 1967 National League Babe Ruth Award, 1974 Major League Baseball Player of the Year, and the 1979 National League Comeback Player of the Year, which he was awarded after he announced his retirement. He would end up becoming the first player to get this award in his final season.

He is also second in caught stealing with 307 and stealing bases with 938. The player right before him in both categories is Rickey Henderson. He also would go on to join the 3,000 hit club by having 3,023 hits during his career. Like Yankees fans saw a passing of the torch of two legends with Joe DiMaggio to Mickey Mantle, Cardinals fans saw the same thing. Lou Brock ended up becoming the face of the Cardinals after Stan Musial retired in the 1963 season.

He ended up making it to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985 and would be the headliner as he would go in with White Sox pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm, Arky Vaughn ( Veteran’s Committee) and Enos Slaughter ( Veteran’s Committee). Currently, Lou Brock had part of one his legs amputated under the knee due to complications from diabetes.

He will go down as of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals players of all time. He is also somebody, like Mickey Mantle, to come from nothing and make something of himself. He is an example that you may come from nothing, but if you are a hard worker and don’t give up, then you can accomplish anything.

Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com