Andy Pafko 1921-2013
Andy Pafko, NL outfielder for 3 teams in 1940s and 1950s, passed away this week. A four-time All-Star, Pafko compiled over 36 WAR in a 17-year career of over 7000 PAs. Pafko’s career was also notable for the galaxy of star teammates he played with and some of the memorable teams and games he was a part of.
More on Andy Pafko after the jump.
For the years he was active (1943-59) Pafko ranked in the top 10 for NL Games, PA, Hits and RBI, and in the NL top 20 for WAR, HR, 2B, 3B, BB and Runs. His 117 career OPS+ placed him in the top 50 for both leagues (min. 3000 PA).
For his prime years of 1947-53, Pafko was one of only 4 players in baseball (all were in the NL) to qualify for the batting title each year with an OPS+ of 112 or better. Included were 3 seasons with 25+ home runs and 4 seasons with 90+ RBI. In Pafko’s career peak of 1948-50, he had two seasons over 6 WAR and was one of five NLers with OPS+ above 140 over those seasons.
In his years in Chicago, Brooklyn and Milwaukee, Pafko played with a dazzling array of star teammates, including 10 future HOFers (Snider, Robinson, Campanella, Reese, Aaron, Spahn and Mathews among them). Pafko was a regular on pennant-winning teams for the Cubs (1945) and Dodgers (1952), and was a useful reserve for the Braves in their two championship seasons (1957, 1958).
With Pafko’s passing there is only Lennie Merullo still living among the members of the last Cubs team to win a pennant. Pafko is also remembered as the Dodger left-fielder reduced to watching forlornly as Bobby Thomson‘s famous 1951 pennant-winning home run sailed over his head. Of the players who appeared in that game, there are now only 5 who are still living.
Finally, for an HHS exclusive to be found nowhere else, Pafko appeared for the Braves in their game of June 12, 1957 in Ebbets Field against the Dodgers. In the 9th inning of the Dodgers 11-9 win, Eddie Mathews hit the 200th home run of his career, joining Pafko, Bobby Thomson, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges and Roy Campanella as players in that game who had then reached the 200 HR plateau, the first time that six 200 HR players had appeared in the same game.
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