Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Shoebox Superstar - Lou Brock

1964 Topps #29
Lou Brock – Chicago Cubs

On the back of the card:
In Lou's first year in the minors, he led the Northern League in runs, hits, doubles and batting. His explosive bat quickly earned him a shot with the Cubs. Noted for this speed on the bases, the outfielder swiped 16 bases as a rookie.

One of the most infamous deadline trades in history, the Broglio-Brock transaction between the St Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs, will always live in infamy for most Cubs fans mostly for its “lopsided” nature.

It was definitely a “steal” for the Cardinals, but lopsided?

Before the trade, Brock was a 2-plus-year outfielder for the Cubs who had barely stolen 50 bases yet was batting around .257 with an OBP of about .300 from 1962 until the trade deadline in 1964. Ernie Broglio was a 21 game winner with an ERA of 2.74 and was a Cy Young candidate in 1960, coming off of an 18-win 2.99 ERA season in 1963.

The Cubs were originally thought to have gotten the better end of the deal. The Cardinals were barely scratching .500 in the division before the trade, afterwards…well, damn, I think everyone knows about Brock, Broglio, and the other dugout fodder involved in the transaction, but let’s review the nuggets just one more time courtesy of daveyball.com

Lopsided though? Sure that’s what history tells us, and history is pretty much spot on about what we know happened. Could Brock have been such an asset to the Cubs? Maybe so – even Ron Santo felt like he could have, but I’m not so sure. Something seemed to light up for Brock immediately after smelling that sweet St. Looie air and once he had the opportunity to frolic in the most large cement confines of the ol’ Busch Stadium. In his first 15 games with the Cardinals, his line was .364, 7HR, and 17RBI – in his entire 1963 season as a Cub, he hit 9HR and 37RBI. Let’s face it, being a Cub just wasn’t working out for Lou.

Did Lou play a big part in the Cardinals’ 1964 and 1967 World Series campaigns? Sure he did. Would it have been the Cubs there instead, if Lou had stayed? I really don’t think so. But we will never know, will we?

What I like best about this card, besides the less-than-subtle reminder of how fragile the Cubs’ chances for winning have always seemed to be since 1908, with or without guys like Lou Brock, is that the original owner was thoughtful enough to update this card after the trade…look closely, you can see the crossing out of “CUBS" and the well-rounded penciling in of “cardinals” by one who today is probably at least 10 years my senior:

Life is good...

We will never know if Lou Brock would have made it better.

Eien no tomodachi,

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