Lou Brock was under doctor’s orders to talk about diabetes — but the legendary St. Louis Cardinals outfielder couldn’t help talking about the great American pastime.
Brock, 72, was on hand at Preferred Health Partners’ Downtown clinic on Thursday to encourage diabetics to stick with their treatment plans, but it didn’t take much prodding to get the Hall of Famer — himself a diabetes sufferer — to wax about the game he loves.
And here’s what we learned:
• Brock, a native of El Dorado, Arkansas, actually grew up a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, inspired by the on-field (and off-field) heroics of Jackie Robinson.
“Baseball has been the leading component of race relations in America. It led the way for the social change,” Brock said. “The world stopped to see [Jackie Robinson’s] performance.”
• Unlike Robinson, Brock wasn’t fast off the blocks.
“I had to build up steam, so when I was sliding into the base I was probably just getting up to his speed,” said the man who stole 938 bases in his 19-year career, a record that was eclipsed by Rickey Henderson in 1991.
• He’s keeping his eye on the Brooklyn Cyclones, the spiritual heirs of the great Dodger teams.
“They got the footsteps of the past guiding them,” said the six-time all-star and All-Century Team member, his World Series rings from 1963 and 1967 flashing on his fingers. “That can be tough but that can be inspiring.”
Brock’s appearance delighted staffers at Preferred Health Partners’ Atlantic Avenue clinic, but also cheered some patients, including Jamel Hazzard, a fan from Bedford-Stuyvesant, who walked away with three signed photos of Brock in his prime, making a great leaping catch at the wall.
It was probably against the Mets, by the way.