Lou Brock, RIP

I’d not seen anything about this until catching a link to this story on a baseball subreddit. Lou Brock, the former Cardinals star, who is still the all-time steals leader for the National League, passed away in St. Louis this afternoon, at the age of 81. He’d been in poor health for some time.

Cardinals’ legend…grumble grumble.

Even as a first ballot HOFer I feel Brock is underappreciated as a player. I guess it’s because most people just think of stolen bases, but he was a 3000+ hit guy too and epitomized the style of ball played in the 60s.

Brock played in 3 7-game World Series. Here are his numbers for those 21 games:

.391 BA/.424 OBP/.655 SLG, 1.079 OPS
34 hits, four home runs, seven doubles, two triples
16 runs scored, 13 RBIs
14 stolen bases

He did not steal a base in the 1964 World Series, but had 7 steals in both the '67 and '68 Series.

His OPS is 4th-best among players with at least 75 plate appearances in the World Series. The three players ahead of him are Gehrig, Ruth, and Reggie Jackson.

Sad news. I grew up a Cardinals fan in the seventies, and other than Gibson Brock was my favorite player. I saw him play in person probably 15-16 times over the years, mostly in Wrigley Field, and he was certainly one of the most exciting players of his time. It was tremendously fun to watch him TAKE OFF, cover the distance between first and second in what seemed like an eyeblink, and use that little popup slide to make it into second base…juuuuust before the throw (usually).

I did see him make one big baserunning blunder, trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-parker. He was out by about thirty feet. Oops.

Oh, and he could hit too.

I was personally outraged when he lost the MVP award in 1974…to Steve Garvey. (I’m over it now, but it was a source of major irritation back then.)

Brock’s star has certainly dimmed as more uptodate analysis has not been kind to him–nowadays we devalue stolen bases, of course, but we also ding Brock for unexceptional defense and say he should’ve walked more and gotten more extra-base hits. All true, I guess, but he was pretty damn special anyway. The pitcher knew he was going, the catcher knew he was going, everyone in the park knew he was going…and off he went, and much more often than not he was safe. That’s what I’ll remember.