Lou Brock was expected to have a breakout year in 1964 _ with the Cubs, not the Cardinals.
Instead, the Cubs deviated from their plan to construct a team with Brock as a cornerstone. Desperate for experienced pitching, the Cubs traded Brock to the Cardinals on June 15, 1964, in a deal that brought them veteran pitchers Ernie Broglio and Bobby Shantz.
Brock and other members of the 1964 World Series champion Cardinals will be honored on Jan. 19, 2014, at the St. Louis Baseball Writers’ dinner at the Renaissance Grand Hotel in St. Louis. Expected to attend with Brock to launch a year of golden anniversary tributes are Bob Gibson, Dick Groat, Charlie James, Tim McCarver, Red Schoendienst, Mike Shannon and Bob Uecker.
Brock propelled the Cardinals to the National League pennant with his hitting (.348 batting average in 103 games) and speed (33 steals) after being acquired from the Cubs.
Many had predicted he would produce those kinds of numbers for Chicago.
After hitting .258 with 24 steals in 148 games for the Cubs in 1963, his second full season in the major leagues, Brock, 24, finished runner-up to McCarver in balloting by the Associated Press for the honor of National League sophomore of the year.
“Brock is going to be one of the great players in the game within a few years,” Cubs executive Bob Whitlow told The Sporting News in October 1963.
A month later, The Sporting News reported, “In order to acquire (an) extra starting hurler, the Cubs will not break up their infield nor will they deal either Billy Williams or Lou Brock of the outfield.”
Said Santo: “As for Brock, he’s just going to keep getting better.”
Brock led the Cubs in hitting at .380 during the 1964 spring training season.
In a poll of National League writers conducted by The Sporting News just before the start of the 1964 regular season, Brock was selected the Cubs player “likeliest to improve” that year. (Outfielder Johnny Lewis was the Cardinals player chosen in the same category.)
Brock started the season well, hitting .306 in April. But he batted .221 in May. He ended the month in a 4-for-29 slump. On the day he was traded to the Cardinals, his batting average was .251.
Still, Cubs beat writer Edgar Munzel sensed the Cubs were erring in dumping Brock. Calling Brock “a great young prospect,” Munzel wrote, “Even though he was hitting only .251, the youngster combines power with tremendous speed. He was a constant base-running threat.”
Brock, acquired by the Cardinals three days before his 25th birthday, went on to enjoy a spectacular 19-year big-league career, with 3,023 hits (among the top 25 all-time), 938 stolen bases (second all-time) and election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.
Previously: Bill White: We thought Brock deal was nuts