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Andy Pafko
Center fielder
Born: February 25, 1921 (1921-02-25) (age 88)
Boyceville, Wisconsin
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 24, 1943 for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1959 for the Milwaukee Braves
Career statistics
Batting average     .285
Home runs     213
Runs batted in     976
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Andrew (Andy) Pafko (born February 25, 1921 in Boyceville, Wisconsin) is a former center fielder in Major League Baseball. From 1943 through 1959, Pafko played for the Chicago Cubs (1943-51), Brooklyn Dodgers (1951-52) and Milwaukee Braves (1953-59). He batted and threw right-handed. As he stated on a Cubs broadcast in 2008, he lives in Mount Prospect, IL.

In a 17-season career, Pafko was a .285 hitter with 213 home runs and 976 RBI in 1852 games.

Nicknamed "Handy Andy", Pafko was a popular player well known for good hitting and fielding, and contributed to championship-caliber teams in three different cities. A five-time All-Star, he played with the Chicago Cubs during their most recent World Series appearance, in 1945. After Cubs' third baseman Stan Hack retired the following year, Pafko replaced him on the hot corner long enough to be named an All-Star there, making him one of the few people to achieve All-Star status in both infield and outfield. He was traded to Brooklyn in the middle of the '51 season and, as the Dodgers' left fielder, had the best view of Bobby Thomson's famous home run later that year. Pafko returned home when he was traded to the Milwaukee Braves before the start of the 1953 season, becoming the only Wisconsin native on the Braves roster when they arrived in Milwaukee and participating in their strong contending teams there, including the 1957 World Series champions. A devout Slovak Lutheran, he was an instant favorite with Milwaukee's large Eastern European community.

After his playing days, Pafko managed in the minor leagues including a two year stint as the skipper for the Kinston Eagles in the Carolina League. He eventually settled in the Chicago area, and always provided good copy for the press, especially when the subject of the Cubs would come up. When they won their division in 1984, Pafko mused, "I never dreamed it would take them 39 years to win again. I thought they would have won by accident before then!" Pafko was named to the Cubs All-Century team at the turn of the century.

The book Carl Erskine's Tales from the Dodgers Dugout: Extra Innings (2004) includes short stories from former Dodger pitcher Carl Erskine. Pafko is prominent in many of these stories. He is also the title character in Pafko at the Wall and The Perfect Pafko.

Fact

  • Pafko is perhaps best known for being card #1 in the 1952 Topps baseball card set. This card in near mint or better condition is often worth thousands of dollars because most collectors back in 1952 simply put the cards in numerical order and rubber banded the stack. This causes the top card (Pafko) to receive the most wear and tear and thus top grade copies are very rare and valuable.
  • Pafko is also remembered for a 1949 incident in which (according to him) he caught a blooper in the outfield off the bat of St. Louis Cardinal first baseman, Rocky Nelson. The outfield was strewn with paper cups, perhaps confusing umpire Al Barlick who called Nelson safe on a supposedly "trapped" catch. At the time of the play there was a runner on first base with two outs in the top of the ninth inning and the Cubs leading 3-2, so if Pafko had indeed made a valid catch, the Cubs would be 3-2 victors. Pafko started arguing with Barlick, and forgot to call time. By the time the enraged Pafko realized that time had not been called, the base runner on first had scored and Nelson was heading home. Pafko finally threw home, but his throw bounced off Nelson as Rocky slid home, giving the Cards the lead 4-3. The Cardinals subsequently went on to win 4-3 and Nelson was credited with perhaps the only "inside the glove" home run in baseball history.
  • Pafko sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th Inning Stretch at Wrigley Field on June 12, 2008. The game was a throwback to the first year of WGN-TV baseball broadcasts (1948) where the Cubs and the visiting Atlanta Braves wore their uniforms of that year.

See also

External links

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