One of baseball’s best outfielders of his time, Andy Pafko was a star for the Chicago Cubs. He helped the Cubs win the National League Pennant in 1945 by hitting .298 and knocking in 110 runs. In fact, 1945 was the season in which Pafko established himself as one of the game’s best and finished fourth in the NL MVP race. Unfortunately, the Cubs lost that series to the Detroit Tigers in seven games. Pafko followed that season by hitting .282, .302, .312, .281 and .304 over the next five seasons, but staying on the field, healthy, for all 154 games each year was an issue. Pafko played with a “reckless abandon” and no regard for his body that left him banged up much of the time. One can only wonder what kind of numbers Pafko would have put up had he not be injured so often. As it was, Andy Pafko was an All Star in 1947, ’48, ’49 and ’50. But, with the Cubs failing to repeat their 1945 success in any of the subsequent seasons, Pafko was traded midway through the 1951 season to the Brooklyn Dodgers and that’s where he gained a great deal of his fame. While he only played for the Dodgers for 1 ½ years, it was quite exciting. In ’51, he was playing leftfield when Bobby Thomson hit the famous “Shot Heard Round the World.” It was Pafko backed up against the fence watching the ball sail over his head as the New York Giants had completed their historic comeback and layoff win over the Dodgers. In 1952, Pafko hit .287 with 19 homeruns and 85 RBI to help lead the Dodgers to the NL Pennant and a World Series appearance against the New York Yankees. Once again, Pafko found himself on the wrong side of a seven-game loss. Following the ’52 season, Pafko was traded the Milwaukee Braves (relocated from Boston) and starred for the team for two years until he was related to a part time role which included playing just 83 games in 1957. Nonetheless, 1957 was am historic year for the Braves as they won the NL Pennant to earn the right to face the Yankees in the World Series. While, Pafko saw limited time in the regular season, he saw action in six of the seven games World Series games and finally experienced a Series win as the Braves beat the Yankees to capture Milwaukee’s only World Series Championship. Joe Niese, who wrote the book, “Handy Andy” returns to Sports’ Forgotten Heroes to talk about one of baseball’s forgotten heroes – Andy Pafko.
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