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On the Cardinals: Lunch with Lou

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 22, 2009 - I had the honor of having lunch with Lou Brock and his wife Jackie on Saturday. Brock received the St. Louis Argus Foundation Lifetime Achievement award during the newspaper’s 97th Anniversary luncheon.

I was lucky enough to be seated with the Brocks and before long it was obvious that the Hall of Famer and former St. Louis Cardinals great remains a fan favorite.

While no one was rude, the urge to greet Brock with a handshake and hello overcame several people in the audience. In fact, the line of young and old fans wanting to speak with Brock or have him sign the event’s Argus special section had to be cut off so he could enjoy his lunch.

But well wishers soon returned and half of Brock’s slice of carrot cake never was eaten as he graciously signed autographs and spoke with each person who approached him. Then upon receiving his award, Brock spoke to everyone and delivered a powerful message.

The Brocks are both ordained ministers and serve through the Jacqueline Brock Ministries. And they both can preach, let me tell you.

Jackie opened the day’s event with a moving prayer of thanks. Then her husband took the audience on a journey through history and baseball.

“As we look at history, achievement and success (are measured) by having impact on others,” he said. “Jackie Robinson’s achievement had impact on the world.”

Brock noted that history saw Johnny Sain of the Boston Braves throw the first pitch to Robinson on April 15, 1947.

“When (Sain) threw the pitch, there was silence throughout the world,” Brock said. “It validated the fact that the exploits of a black man could be followed daily – and followed not by just you and me, but by the whole world.”

Brock’s exploits have also gained worldwide attention, and I’m not speaking of just his Hall of Fame career.

He and his wife are highly sought-after motivational and inspirational speakers across the globe. The Brocks also conduct the annual National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend Ceremony’s worship service. In addition, their charitable efforts have helped raise millions of dollars for various causes around the world.

Yet fans want his autograph and have a photo snapped with “The Base Burglar” for his exploits on the field.

Brock stole 938 bases and was the all-time leader until surpassed by fellow Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. He won eight stolen-base titles, scored 90 runs in 10 seasons and batted .300 eight times. He stole 50 or more bases for 12 consecutive years and his 3,023 hits put him with game’s biggest stars. With the All-Star Game coming to St. Louis in July, it should be remembered that Brock was a six-time National League All-Star.

Among his greatest baseball honors is the fact he is the only player to have an annual award established in his name while still active. The NL leaders in steals each year wins the Lou Brock Award.

Just as he sailed around the bases, Brock closed his remarks by saying Sain’s pitch continued traveling through the decades.

“That pitch has landed in the most prestigious place in the U.S.A. The White House of Barack Obama,” he said to loud applause.

Alvin A. Reid is a weekend host on the new ESPN 101.1 FM. His weekly Major League Baseball - St. Louis Cardinals column, which is now published on The Beacon website, was honored by the Missouri Press Association as Best Sports Column in 2004 and 1999. He is co-author of the book, "Whitey's Boys: A Celebration of the 1982 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals" and was a member of the inaugural staff of USA TODAY Baseball Weekly.