.WHERE ARE THEY NOW
By Kevin Braun
March 5, 2009
A quick look at Ernie Broglio’s career statistics shows there’s much more to him than just being the guy who was traded for Lou Brock in what has long been considered one of baseball’s most lopsided deals.
For example: Broglio won 21 games as a starter and reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1960. Four of those victories came over the Pittsburgh Pirates, who would go on to win the World Series in seven games over the New York Yankees, on Bill Mazeroski’s dramatic ninth-inning home run.
Broglio, who lives in San Jose, Califonia, says he pitched the best game of his career that season. The right-hander pitched all 12 innings in a 3-2 victory over the Bucs and Bob Friend, who also went the distance. “Stan Musial hit a home run in the top of the 12th to win it for me,” he said.
Broglio also won 18 games for the Cardinals in 1963, and had a career mark of 67-50 going into the 1964 season. But on June 15, 1964, Broglio’s world turned upside down when he was traded from St. Louis to the rival Chicago Cubs. There were other players in the deal, but the principals were Broglio and Brock, who had hit no higher than .263 in two full seasons and parts of two others with the Cubs.
“I was shocked, said Broglio of the trade. “It hurt me. You say you’ll get over it. I don’t think I ever got over it.”
What the Cubs didn’t know when the trade was made was that Broglio had a bad arm. He had an elbow injury that today could be repaired with Tommy John surgery. In the 1960s, though, it amounted to a virtual career-killer.
While Broglio struggled the rest of the season in Chicago, Brock took off in St. Louis. He batted .348 after the trade and helped the Cardinals win the World Series over the Yankees. Broglio was happy for his ex-teammates, guys like Musial, Ken Boyer, Tim McCarver and Ray Sadecki. During their celebration, they didn’t forget their pal. “They called me from Stan Musial’s restaurant and we talked for quite a while," he recalled.
Brock went on to have a Hall of Fame career, playing fifteen years after the famous trade. Broglio had arm surgery in November 1964, returned for Spring Training in 1965, but was out of baseball by 1967. He won a total of seven games for Chicago.
Much like with Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca, baseball history throws Broglio’s and Brock’s names together. But Broglio is OK with that. In fact, he even jokes about it: “Every once in awhile I get a chance to tell Lou, 'Just don’t die before me, because then I’ll be forgotten.'"
After the trade, according to Broglio, he was welcomed by his new Cubs teammates, among them Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams. “They were a great bunch of guys,” he said.
But along with dealing with arm problems, Broglio also had to adjust to playing all his home games in the daytime at Wrigley Field, which he believes put pitchers at a disadvantage: “The hitters could read you a lot better [at Wrigley] than they could anywhere else.”
Ask Broglio about his friend and ex-teammate Musial and the superlatives flow. “He just loves the game of baseball. He was great to be around. He didn’t treat anybody any differently. It’s hard to explain, because he was so good.”
Broglio recalled one memorable holiday weekend during the 1960 season. On Friday, July 1, he picked up relief wins in both ends of a doubleheader sweep over the Milwaukee Braves. On Monday, July 4, he pitched a complete game and struck out 10 in a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had started Sandy Koufax that day.
In 1963, Broglio was 18-8 with an ERA of 2.99. He had 35 starts and 11 complete games, including five shutouts, a career high. He surrendered only 202 hits in 250 innings and recorded 145 strikeouts.
Even with the success he experienced, baseball wasn’t exactly a lucrative career for Broglio. After his 21-win season for the Cardinals in 1960, he recalled, “They offered me a $5,000 raise.” In the off season he had a job with a liquor company, driving a truck and working in a warehouse.
Since his career ended, much of Broglio’s life has still revolved around baseball. He has worked with young ballplayers – high school, Little Leaguers and college kids. He also was the pitching coach for the Italian national team in 2001. “I’ve been fortunate to be around coaches that like the way I teach and respect the way I teach."
Broglio’s main bit of advice for youngsters learning to pitch is not to get upset when teammates make errors. “That’s part of baseball, and they go on at each level,” he tells them. “They have to work a little harder to make sure that run doesn’t score.” Also, he encourages pitchers to maintain their focus on their catcher.
Another thing he stresses with young pitchers is mechanics. “In the Little League programs, coaches want a kid to throw hard but they don’t illustrate how to throw hard.” Proper technique can help head off arm injuries, he said.
Most of the young players Broglio works with know little of his big league career; their parents can relate more. But, he said, “One kid that comes to me every other week, he’s got everything I’ve ever done. He’s only 11 years old. That’s kind of amazing.”
Broglio grew up in the Bay Area, and because there were no major league teams in California before 1958, he never saw a major-league game until after he first signed. He and his wife had four children. He has three grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
He is an investor in Manzanita Creek, an award-winning winery run by his son-in-law, Jack Salerno, in Healdsburg, California.
Broglio said he has cut back on his pitching instruction work, in part because of health problems, such as diabetes and kidney stones. But he also wants to spend more time watching his high-school-age granddaughter play softball. She is, not surprisingly, a pitcher.
Kevin Braun, whose first baseball glove was an Ernie Broglio model, is a freelance writer, based in Atlanta. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.
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