Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Ones That Got Away: Lou Brock

     There have been many instances of players who were traded to Chicago early in what became illustrious careers. These include Doug Atkins, Mordecai "Three-Finger" Brown, Tony Esposito, Nellie Fox, Fergie Jenkins, Glenn Hall, Bob Love, Minnie Minoso, Ryne Sandberg, and Jerry Sloan.
     But it is the future stars who were traded from Chicago that stick achingly in our collective memory. There are about three dozen prominent examples of ones that got away from Chicago and went on to greater glory elsewhere. Among them are Hall-of-Famers George Blanda, Dennis Eckersley, Phil Esposito, Goose Gossage, Bobby Layne, and Rube Waddell.
     We will recall these from time to time, starting with the case that has lived in infamy above the others.

Lou Brock
Cubs, 1961 - 1964

     Lou Brock was not quite 25 years old when the Cubs traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Ernie Broglio on June 15, 1964. Brock hit a robust .348 for the remainder of the season, sparking the Cardinals to the world championship. The Redbirds also won the World Series in 1967 and the National League pennant in 1968.
     "If I'd been here [in Chicago]," Brock later said, "the Cubs would have won the pennant in '68 and '69." He was being immodest, but he was probably right.
     Broglio, only 28 himself at the time of the trade, had already won 70 games for the Cardinals--including 21 in 1960 and 18 in 1963. He won only seven for the Cubs, while losing 19, and retired in 1966.
     When Brock retired after the 1979 season, he had accumulated over 3,000 hits, scored 1,600 runs, and was baseball's all-time leading base stealer (his stolen-base record was later broken by Rickey Henderson). Brock entered the Hall of Fame in 1985.

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