St. Louis Says Goodbye to Cardinals Legend Lou Brock
Family, friends and fans of baseball legend Lou Brock gathered Saturday to remember and celebrate his life and storied career with the Cardinals.
Brock’s family hosted a private funeral in Ferguson that was livestreamed to the public and later visited his statue outside Busch Stadium. He was 81 when he died last Sunday, after suffering from many health ailments, including bone marrow cancer and diabetes.
Brock joined the Cardinals in 1964 and spent 16 seasons with the St. Louis baseball club, helping the Cards win two World Series titles, including one in his first season on the team.
He also set a record for most career stolen bases, 938, that still stands as the National League’s record. Brock ended his 19-year career with more than 3,000 hits, three pennants, two World Series championships and a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
“Lou was one of those players who could change the momentum of a game whether it was with his legs or his bat,” said Ozzie Smith, a fellow Hall of Fame Cardinals player, at the family’s service.
Former Cardinal Willie McGee spoke via a video message at the funeral. He described Brock as a master technician of base running, even after he had retired. Brock had been a guest base running coach early in McGee’s career with the Cardinals and brought a tape measure, a stopwatch and string to mark off 10-yard increments and calculate the time it would take to run each, McGee said.
“I wish I would have had the passion, the heart and the desire to take it to the next level,” he said.
Family members, former Cardinals players and close friends remembered Brock as much for his accomplishments off the field as on. Speakers stood at a lectern that was flanked by a Cardinal-red suit jacket and a massive baseball flower arrangement with Brock’s No. 20. They spoke of his infectious smile, grit and charity to the St. Louis community.
“Lou was always true to a promise and a commitment,” said Jackie Brock, Lou’s wife. “If he said he was going to be there, he had the character of God to keep his word.”
She explained how her husband gave for the sake of giving. In one instance, he went to purchase beds for three children immediately after learning at a church service they didn’t have a place to sleep in their home, Jackie Brock said.
“He was determined to do all that he could do,” she said. “I never heard him receive a request from anyone where he felt he could meet the need that he didn’t.”
Lou Brock also raised scholarship money for children who couldn’t afford school and helped supply backpacks and school supplies, KMOX Sports Director Tom Ackerman said at the service.
“Lou was a fixture in the community,” he said.
After the funeral service, the Brock family visited the Lou Brock statue in front of Busch Stadium, where dozens of fans of the baseball great had also come to pay their respects.
“He just embodied what a Cardinal was,” said Malina Bonifield, who drove from Marion, Ill. “He worked hard. He played hard. He was someone that then gave back to the community.”
Bonifield pointed to Brock’s engagement with Lindenwood University, supporting youth athletics.
Other fans reflected on their memories of Brock playing for the Cardinals in the 1960s and '70s.
“This just takes me back to my childhood coming to the baseball game with my parents,” said Karen Simmons of St. Louis. “It was fantastic to watch. Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, St. Louis baseball.”
Eric Schmid covers the Metro East for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the journalism grant program: Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricDSchmid