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by Graham Meyer
THEN Pitcher, Chicago Cubs (1964–66)
NOW Private pitching instructor, grandfather
To Cubs fans, the name Ernie Broglio signifies the franchise’s unending marriage to disappointment. In the spring of 1964, Broglio was a well-regarded pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals—an 18-game winner the previous season and, four years before that, the National League leader in victories, with 21. In June 1964, the Cubs acquired Broglio principally in exchange for Lou Brock, a fleet-footed but underachieving young outfielder whose .251 batting average whispered mediocrity. Fans on the North Side were pleased with this fleecing of their archrival—until reality, in all its cosmic cruelty, set in. Broglio won just four games that season for the lowly Cubs. In St. Louis, Brock exploded, batting .348, stealing 33 bases, and helping the Cardinals to the World Series, in which they beat the New York Yankees. In his long career, Brock batted over .300 eight times, made five All-Star teams, set a major-league career record for stolen bases, and ultimately played his way into the Baseball Hall of Fame. After 1964, Broglio lasted two more injury-riddled seasons with the Cubs, winning only three more games and ensuring that the phrase “Brock for Broglio” would enter baseball’s lexicon as a synonym for an absurdly lopsided trade.
Today, Broglio, 75, acknowledges he was damaged goods when the Cardinals pawned him off on the Cubs. “I had a little arm problem,” he says. “It’d be different now. You gotta go for a physical, so [the trade] probably would have never occurred.” After retiring, Broglio coached high-school and Little League baseball in California’s Bay Area for many years. Now he gives private pitching lessons from his current hometown of San Jose and spends time with his wife of 56 years, Barbara, three children, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He has no illusions about his infamous place in Cubs history. “I had a guy ask me, ‘Who do you think is more popular [in Chicago], you or that guy who interfered with catching that foul ball [Steve Bartman]?’” Broglio says. “I think [Bartman] is probably more popular.” Then he looks on the bright side. “I’m happy people remember me,” he says. Meanwhile, his love of baseball is undiminished. “I’m still a big St. Louis Cardinals fan,” he says.
Photography: (Broglio, then and now) courtesy of Ernie Broglio
4 weeks ago