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Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst, who was Hall of Famer Lou Brock’s longtime manager with the Cardinals, nodded in Brock’s direction Monday before the pre-game ceremonies were to begin at the Cardinals’ home opener at Busch Stadium.

“Tough kid,” said Schoendienst.

Lou Brock will be 77 years old in a couple of months. But, Schoendienst is 93, so he can call Brock a “kid.”

Schoendienst recalled that he first uttered that phrase some 50 years ago when Los Angeles Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, apparently annoyed at Brock’s having bedeviled the Dodgers, broke Brock’s shoulder blade with a pitch. Brock was back in the lineup just a few days later.

But Brock has had to overcome a greater challenge in the last few months. Last Oct. 27, he had his left leg amputated below the knee after a diabetes-related infection raged through the leg. But that wasn’t the half of it. The infection permeated to his heart, lungs and kidneys and Brock also had to have a heart bypass along the way besides being fitted for a prosthesis. 

On Monday afternoon, as sunshine finally had chased away the rain, Brock took the field again to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Brock, who backstopped himself with a cane Monday on potentially wet grounds, paced off his steps from home plate and moved to a distance about 35 feet away, with Cardinals Hall of Famer Ted Simmons set to receive the pitch. Brock paused to balance himself.

“I had no choice,” he quipped.

And then he threw a strike as the sellout crowd went wild.

“I think we’re going to sign him,” said Lou Brock Jr.

Brock said he had been advised by Hall of Fame teammate Bob Gibson not to put too much body into the pitch, but to use the wrist.

“I told him I wasn’t going to pick him up,” cracked Gibson.

Brock followed Gibson’s advice. “There was no way he wasn’t going to do this today,” said Gibson.

Schoendienst was another interested observer. “Tough kid,” Schoendienst said again.

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