Andy Pafko


Known for his work ethic and crouched batting stance, Boyceville native Andy Pafko played in four World Series for three teams — the 1945 Cubs, 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers and 1957 and 1958 Milwaukee Braves. In a 17-year major league career, Pafko hit .285 with 213 home runs and 976 RBIs in 1,852 games. He struck out only 477 times in 6,292 at-bats.

Pafko was signed by the Eau Claire Bears of the Northern League in 1940. The Chicago Cubs bought his contract at the end of the following season which he played with Green Bay of the Wisconsin State League. In 1941 he played for the Macon Peaches, and by 1943 he was putting up impressive numbers for the Los Angeles Angels, the Cubs’ top farm club.

Pafko debuted with the Cubs at the age of 22 as a minor-league call-up on September 24, 1943, fresh from winning the Pacific Coast League batting title. His performance in Chicago in the following seasons secured his place as one of the most popular Cubs of all time. After several successful seasons, including the 1945 World Series, he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951, and played in the 1952 World Series.

“Handy Andy” was traded to the Boston Braves just before the team moved to Milwaukee in 1953 — a deal that was designed to provide the Braves with a local star. Pafko was a regular for two seasons with the Braves, hitting .297 and .286, then saw more limited playing time over the next four seasons as the Braves became one of the National League’s powerhouses. He played in two more World Series, winning in 1957 and losing in 1958. Pafko retired after the 1959 campaign.

After his playing career ended, Pafko coached for the Braves from 1960–62. He then managed in the minor leagues (the Binghamton Triplets, the West Palm Beach Braves and the Kinston Eagles, who won the Carolina League pennant in 1967). He moved back to the Chicago area and was a part-time scout for the expansion Montreal Expos.

 

Career Highlights

  • Signed his first professional baseball contract with the Northern League Eau Claire Bears in 1940.

  • Debuted with the Chicago Cubs on September 24, 1943, fresh from winning the Pacific Coast League batting title.

  • Played on the Chicago Cubs’ last World Series team in 1945.

  • In 1949 an incident occurred in which (according to Andy) he caught a blooper hit to the outfield that was littered with beer cups. Umpire Al Barlick called St. Louis Cardinals
    hitter Rocky Nelson safe, saying Pafko trapped the ball. Andy began arguing with Barlick, but forgot to ask for time. Nelson circled the bases for the only “inside the glove” home run in baseball history.

  • Played two 100 RBI Seasons (1945 and 1948)

  • Was a five-time National League All-Star (1945, 1947,
    1948, 1949 and 1950)

  • On August 2, 1950, he hit home runs in three consecutive at-bats.

  • In 1950, Andy struck out only 32 times, making him one of only a handful of players to ever have more home runs than strikeouts in a single season (36 HR, and he had 69 walks
    to boot
    ).

  • Played three 20-Home Run Seasons (1948, 1950 and 1951)

  • Played two 30-Home Run seasons (1950 and 1951)

  • Pafko tells of hitting a home run while playing for the Cubs against the Boston Braves that went over the fence and landed on a coal car of a passing train. It didn’t stop until it got to New York.

  • On June 15, 1951, just before the scheduled game against the Dodgers at Wrigley Field, the Cubs traded Pafko, and three other players to the Brooklyn Dodgers for four of their players. All eight players showed up in the uniforms of their new team for that day’s game. Pafko hit his 13th home run, but the Dodgers lost that game 6-4. Andy was injured in the game, keeping him out for three weeks in July. Cubs fans were quite upset at the move as Andy was one of the Cubs most popular players; it was one of the worst trades in Cubs history.

  • Played seven games with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1952 World Series against the Yankees.

  • Was the only Wisconsin native on the Milwaukee Braves in their inaugural season in 1953.

  • Won a World Series ring with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957, playing in six games.

  • Played four games in the 1958 World Series against the Yankees.

  • Named to the Cubs All-Century team in 1999.

 

In 1952, Topps Gum introduced the first "modern baseball card," complete with player image, team logo, vital statistics, and full playing record, to sell even more bubble gum. The first card in that set, Andy Pafko [shown above], is a collector's gem today --- worth more than $80,000 in mint condition --- because so many people sorted their cards by number and wrapped rubber bands around their stacks. Poor Andy. Not many Pafkos survived the rubber band wars!

For more information on Andy Pafko:


Back to Online Exhibits
Home | About Us | Calendar of Events | Historical Sites | Gift Shop | History Links

Dunn County Historical Society
PO Box 437, Menomonie, WI   USA  54751
715-232-8685