Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Baseball » Lou Brock Biography - Reared In Small Southern Town, Slugged Way Onto College Baseball Team, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments - SELECTED WRITINGS BY BROCK:

Lou Brock - Got Dismal Start With The Cubs

games played season bats

Before he could complete his senior year of college in 1961, Brock signed with the Chicago Cubs and left school. His signing bonus was $30,000. Though Brock

Lou Brock, left

was sorry to leave school, the chance to help his family financially was appealing. Brock spent one brief season in the minor leagues, playing for the Cubs' farm team in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where he batted .361 and stole 38 bases. He also led the team in hits and was soon called up to the majors, where he appeared in four games in 1961.

Unfortunately, Brock's time with the Cubs proved dismal. Aspiring to be a power-hitter, Brock struck out often. He whiffed 96 times in 434 at-bats in 1962 and 122 times in 547 at-bats in 1963. His batting average wasn't that impressive either. He hit .263 in 1962, his first full season in the majors.

Besides his mediocre performance at the plate, Brock took a lot of flack for his fielding. With every game at the gusty Wrigley Field played in the afternoon, Brock had trouble tracking the ball in sunny right field. Brock had only spent one season in the minors and had not learned how to cope with the sun. He made a spectacle of himself as he dropped balls; even when he caught them, his struggle was evident. The coaches never realized that Brock played better at night and on the road.

Cubs fans—and local sportswriters in particular—poked fun at Brock. Bob Smith of the Daily News was brutal in his characterizations of Brock. According to David Halberstam's book October 1964, Smith wrote in 1963, "If you have watched all the Cub home games thus far you probably had come to the conclusion that Lou Brock is the worst outfielder in baseball history. He really isn't, but he hasn't done much to prove it."

By 1964, Brock's rage to succeed was getting the better of him. Cub roommate Ernie Banks recalled that Brock had trouble eating and sleeping. Banks told Brock he needed to loosen up and let his natural ability pull him through. Brock, however, was too antsy to relax. He scribbled reports after every game he played in, making notes about the pitchers he faced, what kind of pitches they threw at him, and how well he had responded. Before games, Brock plotted how many hits he thought he should deliver and how many runs he should smack in. According to Halberstam's book, Brock told teammates over and over, "I've got to make it here. I just can't go back to Louisiana and Arkansas. I've been there, and I know what's there."

By June 1964, the Cubs were ready to drop Brock. At the time, Brock was hitting .251 and showed no signs of promise. Since the Cubs rarely gave him the green light to steal, no one knew about Brock's hidden talent for stolen bases.

Lou Brock - Came Alive With The Cardinals [next] [back] Lou Brock - Awards And Accomplishments

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