Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August 6, 1970 - Brock Steals Home in 3-0 Win Over Seaver, Mets

Thursday, August 6, 1970 - At Busch Stadium II (Nelson Briles - Starting Pitcher) - Opponent:  New York Mets (Tom Seaver - Starting Pitcher) - Attendance:  23,412

Lou Brock - the National League's all-time career stolen base leader (938) - stole home for the first and only time as a member of the St Louis Cardinals - sparking the Redbirds to a 3-0 win over Tom Seaver (16-6) and the New York Mets.  Seaver had won nine straight decisions prior to this game - but he got no help from his offense.  Nelson Briles pitched brilliantly - scattering seven hits in nine full innings of work, without walking a single batter.  He struck out a season-high nine batters - improving to 4-3 on the season.

In terms of historical significance, Brock's feat stole the show, however - and it happened in the very first turn at bat for the Cardinals.  Brock led-off the bottom of the first with a double to left field off Seaver - then advanced to third on Julian Javier's ground out to the second baseman.  After Joe Hague walked, Seaver struck out Dick Allen for the second out of the inning.

Then with Joe Torre batting, manager Red Schoendienst decided to try something a bit unorthodox - calling for the double steal.  It worked perfectly - as Hague got a great jump off first to beat catcher Jerry Grote's throw to second - and by the time the return throw to the plate arrived,  Brock had already slid safely into home - to give the Cardinals a quick 1-0 lead.  For Hague - no speedster by any means - he would only log two stolen bases for the entire season - and just four in his six-year major league career.

Prior to stumbling across this game summary on Baseball Reference.com, I was under the erroneous impression that Brock had never stolen home in his career.  That was based on several different sources claiming that to be fact - Starting with a SABR - Research Journals Archive article written by Raymond Gonzalez, pointing out that Brock never stole home which was "quite a surprise".  He goes on to mention that "another Lou" - Gehrig stole home fifteen times in his career - and that total was "fifteen more than Brock".

Here's another surprise:  Brock also stole home as part of a double steal when he was still a member of the Chicago Cubs - against the Cincinnati Reds (at Crosley Field) on May 22, 1964.  So he had two career steals of home, Mr Gonzalez - thirteen less than Gehrig.

In another book that was published in 2009 - ESPN - The Mighty Book of Sports Knowledge - edited by Steve Wulf - the myth was perpetuated that "Brock never stole home."

In 2009, a Sports Illustrated article by Ted Keith mentions the fact that Rickey Henderson only stole home four times in his career (1406 stolen bases) - but that was "four more than Lou Brock had".

In posting about previous games in St Louis Cardinals history - whenever a double steal occurred, I'd always remind the reader that so-and-so stole home - adding to the long list of Cardinals who accomplished such a feat - but this was a list that excluded Lou Brock (supposedly).  Now we know the truth.

At any rate, getting back to this game - the Cardinals added two more runs in the fourth-inning - using speed as a weapon (naturally).  Stolen base wizard Hague led-off the inning with a triple to right field - then Dick Allen drove him in with a single.  Not to be outdone, Dick Allen stole second (he stole five bags all season) - then two outs later, after advancing to third - scored on an RBI single by Mike Shannon.

In terms of the pennant race, this game had no significance for the Cardinals, who were already out of the picture - nine games under .500 (50-59) - trailing Pittsburgh by a dozen or so games.

As far as Brock is concerned, I just wonder why he didn't try this more often over his long career.  It would have made watching some of those dreadful games in the '70's a little easier to bear.

No comments:

Post a Comment