On Monday, it became official: Matt Carpenter’s salsa will go from a secret, homemade recipe from Adam Wainwright’s magic garden to a full-blown commercial product. Matt Carpenter’s Bueno Mojo Salsa will be available tomorrow at St. Louis area Schnucks.
I’ve already made arrangements for a friend’s mother to ship some to Des Moines for me, and I’m curious to see how it stacks up to what I deduced the recipe might be.
But it’s also got me thinking about the long line of businesses and side hustles from Cardinals players over the years, and I don’t know anyone that weaved such a rich entrepreneurial tapestry as Lou Brock.
As Brock neared the all-time stolen base record in 1977, he was already President of Lu-Wan Enterprises, named for his children. This Sports Illustrated profile from that year focuses not on Brock’s coming achievement on the field, but the various products and businesses he was already spinning out from his major league career.
Some things followed pretty naturally from Brock, the player.
Brock was not just paid to endorse the Converse Player 118 L-T sneaker, he was hired as a consultant and developed the sneakers with the manufacturer. Old pairs still sell on eBay for several hundred dollars.
While he may have taken a more hands-on approach with Converse, Brock was also willing to simply lend his famous name and smile to a product, as he did with Vess Soda’s Brocca Pop.
Vess would also make an orange soda named “Holy Cow” for longtime Cardinals broadcaster Harry Caray, but not until he had long since departed for the hated Cubs. You can find some old cans of Brocca Pop available online, some even unopened. But I suppose drink at your own risk.
Brock also made business moves that had nothing to do with his famous name. He owned a flower shop and a sporting goods store for a time. But rather than call it Lou Brock’s or advertise speedy delivery, his flower shop was simply called “The Flower Shop.”
Of course, the Converse and the red pop and the flower shop were all just side hustles to the main business of Lu-Wan Enterprises: The Broccabrella.
Now, did Lou Brock invent the umbrella hat? No, he did not. In fact, he would even say designs for the hat dated back to 1879. But just as Ray Kroc didn’t invent McDonalds, but revolutionized it, so too did Lou Brock with a hat that is also an umbrella.
Brock told SI that his company spent two years researching and developing the BroccaBrella before taking it to market. And Brock was successful enough with the product that many people today still use the term “BroccaBrella” as a generic term for the umbrella hat, like Kleenex for facial tissue.
I don’t know if Matt Carpenter has business aspirations beyond his nascent salsa empire, but if he does, a good person to get advice from might be Lou Brock. Maybe they can talk about it in a few years when they’re both wearing red jackets.