Story of the Week
In 1978, the National League announced that its annual stolen base leader would receive the Lou Brock Award, making Brock the first active player to have an award named after him. The greatest base-stealer the game of baseball had produced to that time, Lou went on to break Ty Cobb’s modern career record of 891 with 938 of his own. The record was eventually eclipsed, in turn, by Rickey Henderson.
Brock ensured that he’d get numerous chances to run on the bases by having 3,023 hits during his career, and finishing a 19-year career with seven .300 seasons, and a lifetime batting average of .293. In 1968, he led the NL in doubles, triples and steals, the first NL player to accomplish that feat since Honus Wagner did it in 1908.
Lou could run, hit, and even hit with power occasionally. In 1967, he led the Cardinals in extra-base hits, and knocked 76 runs as a leadoff man, a tremendous accomplishment. As a youngster with the Cubs, Brock blasted a home run into the center field seats at the Polo Grounds; only certifiable slugger Joe Adcock had ever done that before Brock.
As a St. Louisian at the time, I loved this, one of the all-time worst trades in baseball history, for the Cubs that is. The Cardinals acquired Brock from the Cubs in June, 1964 for pitcher Ernie Broglio. After the trade was made, Brock hit .348 and scored 81 runs in 103 games. During the stretch run for the pennant, as the Cards overtook the Phillies and the Reds, he hit .461 to help the Cardinals win their first pennant since 1946. St. Louis beat the Yankees in the 1964 World Series.
In the 1967 World Series, Brock batted .414 with 12 hits, had four hits in Game One, and stole a record seven bases as the Cardinals won the Series from Boston. In the 1968 World Series, he stole seven bases again, and improved to .464 with 13 hits, but it wasn’t enough to take the Series from Detroit.
In 1966, Brock broke Maury Wills’ stranglehold on the stolen-base championship with 74 thefts. That was the first of four straight base-stealing crowns for Lou, and, after Bobby Tolan interrupted the string in 1970, Brock won four more in a row. In 1974, he smashed Maury Wills’ season mark of 104 stolen bases, ending the season with 118, and was named Man of the Year by the Sporting News.
"Sweet Lou" retired after the 1979 season, hitting .304 his last year. He spent all but his first three Cubs years as a Cardinal. This "class act" was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Last Week’s Trivia
Yards don’t win football games; points do. New England did a couple of things in 2001 that justify that statement. What? The Rams outgained the Pats, 427 to 267 in Super Bowl XXXVI, becoming the first team in Super Bowl history to outgain its opponent by at least 100 yards and lose. During the regular season, New England was outgained by nearly 500 yards, the largest margin by any team that ever reached a Super Bowl, much less win one. The bottom line; don’t hang your hat on stats.
Trivia Question of the Week
It’s the first time in NHL history that a goalie has assisted on an overtime goal in a playoff game. Who and when? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.