Former Cub Andy Pafko Dies at Age 92

Four-time National League All-Star Andy Pafko died today at age 92.  He is well remembered by my father’s and uncle’s generation of Cubs fans (both of my seniors grew up in Chicago and rooted for the Cubbies from the late 1940’s on, at least until my father moved out to the West Coast in 1957).

Originally from Boyceville, Wisconsin, Handy Andy was an enormously popular player for the Cubs.  He hit for average and power, made diving catches in the outfield and threw with a cannon arm, and he always hustled.  His Czech ancestry and Midwest upbringing didn’t hurt him in the City of Big Shoulders, he drove in 110 runs for the Cubs’ last pennant winning team in 1945, and he even married a Chicago native, Ellen Kapusta, while playing for the Cubbies.

In 1950, Pafko had his best season, belting 36 HRs and batting .304.  Needless to say, when the Cubs traded him to the Brooklyn Dodgers ten weeks into the 1951 season, the trade was deeply unpopular in the Windy City.

It was a big trade: Pafko, along with pitcher Johnny “Bear Tracks” Schmitz, middle infielder Wayne Terwilliger and back-up catcher Rube Walker to the Dodgers for catcher Bruce Edwards, pitcher Joe Hatten, outfielder Gene Hermanski and middle infielder Eddie Miksis.  The main pieces as far as the Cubs were concerned were Edwards and Miksis, relatively young players the second-division team hoped it could build around.

Bruce Edwards had hit .295 for the 1947 pennant-winning Dodgers before losing his starting job to Hall-of-Famer Roy Campanella.  However, he did little to help the Cubs on the playing field after the trade.  Eddie Miksis played regularly for the Cubs through much of the 1950’s but never hit enough to help the team win.

Pafko, meanwhile, helped the Dodgers win the pennant in 1952 and nearly win the pennant in 1951 — Pafko was playing left-field at the Polo Grounds when Bobby Thompson hit the Shot Heard ‘Round the World over his head.  In short, the trade would be remembered by the afore-said generation of Cubs fans and others throughout the world of baseball as exemplifying the futility and incompetence of the Cubs and their management during the 1950’s.

The Dodgers traded Pafko to the Milwaukee Braves before the 1953 season.  Although he gave the Braves two solid seasons as their every-day rightfielder, he famously lost his starting job to the young Hank Aaron in 1955.  However, living up to his nickname, Pafko remained a handy bench-player for the Braves on their 1957 and 1958 pennant winners and collected a total of six hits in the two World Series.

You can read more about Andy Pafko’s career in this SABR bio.

Explore posts in the same categories: Atlanta Braves, Baseball History, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, National League, New York Mets

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