LOUUUUUUUU! Members of Cardinal Nation instantly know what that means: Lou Brock is in the house. I’ve heard that chant since I was a kid watching Brock make baseball history. He broke Ty Cobb’s stolen base records, set World Series batting records, had more than 3,000 hits, was inducted into the Hall of Fame and is now and always will be one of the most beloved sports legends in the history of St. Louis. So, I’ll say it again, LOUUUUUU!
It’s a sunny summer day when I arrive at the Brock home. I find Jackie Brock in the front yard tending flowers, and she greets me with a soft voice and a sincere welcome. She leads me through the front door, where she sings out for her husband. “Louuuu-iss,” she calls. I’m a few minutes early, so Jackie goes off to search. I’m standing in the foyer of a perfectly arranged home. There’s Gospel music playing on the sound system, and every inch of space has a special touch that is clearly Jackie’s work: lots of white and lots of pillows, an abundance of artwork and statuary, and a prominent portrait of Lou and Jackie.
Lou comes in to greet me. He’s 73, but fit, stylish and looking like he could still steal a base or two. He leads me downstairs to a place he knows I’ll appreciate: his baseball sanctuary— a Cardinal treasure room and Lou Brock’s personal collection of memorabilia. There are silver bats, gold gloves and autographed balls, each item an authentic piece of baseball history. My jaw drops and all I can say is, “Wow!” He sits me down in a red stadium seat from Busch Stadium II—seat No. 20, of course. Lou pulls up a chair and we talk baseball, and he explains to me the finer points of hitting and base-stealing, and inside stories about the legends of the game. He tells me about the infamous trade that brought him from the Cubs in ’64, brush-backs from Gibson, playing outfield with Curt Flood, being teammates with Maris, Boyer and Shannon. I’m struck by his intelligence and how he’s a student of the game, but also a master.
I could sit and talk baseball all day, but we need to do a photo shoot. Jackie makes sure Lou is properly suited for the picture. We move to the parlor to talk about the rest of the Lou and Jackie Brock story—a story that is not all about baseball. While Lou can talk with great precision about baseball, Jackie’s field of expertise is salvation. “I can talk about Jesus forever,” she tells me. “I start wherever the signals are, I may not be the one who starts that conversation but I’ll respond to whatever door they open.”
Both Jackie and Lou are ordained ministers and committed to sharing their stories of hope and faith. I ask her for analogies between faith and baseball. “You’ve got home plate meaning the place everybody should end up, home with Jesus,” she quickly responds. “You’ve got safe and that means you are in that place of security and safety in a relationship with the Lord Jesus.” She has to stop and think for just a second when I ask for a comparison with stolen bases. “Stealing a base is relative to stealing someone out of the hands of the devil.” I imagine that Jackie has had just about as many ‘steals’ in her life as Lou.
Part of the Brocks’ focus these days is aimed at enabling parents to detect and prevent cyberbullying with a program called Childsafe Online Dashboard, with Lou as company founder. They’re also devoted to education: The Lou Brock Scholarship Foundation dates back to the year he retired from baseball in 1979. And they’re getting ready for the 20th annual Lou Brock Golf Classic set for Aug. 13 at Whitmoor Country Club. It raises money for the Lou Brock Scholarship Fund and Lindenwood University. Lou himself was a math major at Southern University but lost his scholarship because of a C+ grade average one semester. Southern’s baseball coach took a chance on the desperate Brock when he “walked on” to the school’s team. “I had an academic scholarship and lost it,” Brock remembers. “On a second chance, I was given an athletic scholarship. People have always reached out to me so I have this need to give back. I never lost that—even as a player.”
I have to think that C+ may have altered history, both in baseball and in the lives of Lou and Jackie. Lou believes it all happened for a reason. “I think we all have a destiny and sometimes we turn our back on it. I may have been one of those people, but I think I was saved by God to be saved.” Perhaps he was saved to be a minister of the word and Jackie’s spiritual partner, “Louuuu-iss,” and I think we’re blessed that his destiny was also to be… LOUUUUUUUU!
Native St. Louisan Paul Brown is a lifelong journalist, and previously served as a broadcaster for KMOX and KTRS radios and ABC 30. He also worked as a freelance producer for programs on the Speed TV network and as a media relations consultant specializing in political campaigns.