Happy "Brock for Broglio" Day, St. Louis Cardinals fans!

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the most significant trade in Cardinals history.
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals / Jeff Curry/GettyImages

It was blasphemous at the time. The St. Louis Cardinals had traded star right-hander Ernie Broglio, Bobby Shantz, and Doug Clemens to the Chicago Cubs for pitchers Jack Spring, Paul Toth, and an unproven outfielder named Lou Brock. This trade appeared to be a lopsided deal for the Cubs. 

""Thank you, thank you, oh, you lovely St. Louis Cardinals. Nice doing business with you. Please call again anytime.""

Bob Smith, Chicago Daily News.

Ernie Broglio finished the 1963 season with a record of 18-8 and had won a Major League-leading 21 games in 1960. So, from the Cardinals' viewpoint, it was considered a poor trade. Bob Gibson went on record saying he thought it was the worst trade ever. Mike Shannon said that everyone wanted General Manager Bing Devine fired. Indeed, the question everyone in St. Louis County had on their mind at the time of the trade was simple: "What the heck was Devine thinking?" 

With a club floundering in June of 1964 and pressure from Gussie Busch to win, Devine knew he had to generate a spark. Cardinals legend Stan Musial had retired the year before, which left a void in left field. Despite being named the Opening Day starter, Ernie Broglio held an underwhelming 3-5 record with low strikeout numbers. Manager Johnny Keane's confidence in the right-hander waned as he juggled a six-man rotation. 

So when Devine received an offer from Chicago that included a potential everyday left fielder and two new pitchers, Keane demanded the trade be made immediately, and the rest is history.

Chicago Cubs legend Billy Williams claimed that the Cubs, using their "College of Coaches," stunted Brock's growth by making him hit ground balls to the left side only and using his speed to reach first base. Williams also claimed that any similar trade would be vetoed in today's baseball due to better health screenings. When the trade happened, Broglio had reported pain in his elbow. That pain persisted, which led him to win a mere seven games in three seasons with the Cubs. 

After Brock passed away in 2020, a rumored reason for the trade was that the Cubs had too many black players at the time, but Williams denied that rumor. Williams believed that general manager John Holland wanted to acquire pitching depth, and Broglio was seen as a good fit. Despite having a lineup that eventually featured four future Hall of Famers in Williams, Brock, Ron Santo, and Ernie Banks, Holland traded Brock to the Cardinals.

Whatever the real reason, it became MLB's most lopsided trade. Lou Brock went on to play sixteen seasons in St. Louis, during which time he collected 2,713 hits, 814 RBIs, and 888 stolen bases. He finished his career as a member of the 3,000-hit club and was the stolen base king until Rickey Henderson broke it in 1989. His Cardinals' career got him into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.

Thanks for doing business, Cubs!