Wednesday, October 9, 2013

RIP Andy Pafko 1921-2013

I found out thanks to my twitter feed that Andy Pafko passed away last night at the age of 92 in a nursing home in Stevensville, Michigan.

He was a veteran of seventeen major league seasons, making his major league debut on September 24, 1943.

He was an All-Star for four straight seasons (1947-1950) with the Chicago Cubs.

He won a World Series title with the 1957 Milwaukee Braves.

He played in 1,852 games, hit for a cumulative .285 average, hit 213 home runs, drove in 976 rbi's, had OBP/SLG/OPS percentages of .350/.449/.799.

Until his passing, he was one of two players still alive who played as a Cub in a World Series.

But for all of his contributions to the game of baseball, he will be remembered by collectors for one very important thing...

When Topps created their now famous 1952 baseball card product, they had the presence of mind to make Andy Pafko, then a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, card number 1. Because his was the top card in many players collections (those who sorted their cards by number and then placed them in rubber plastic sheets back then), his card would get the brunt of wear and tear. Thus making his card an extremely valuable (hence expensive) card to find in good or better condition.

It is what makes Andy Pafko's card one of the most valuable common cards in the history of baseball card collecting (can't really consider his cards commons though...he was a star after all).

He signed the above page of a book called 300 Great Baseball Cards by Mike Payne and the staff of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly a number of years ago (thanks to Brian Proulx...wherever you are) at a card shop near my work. Unfortunately, the day he was to appear at the shop, I was in Indiana. So I left the book at the shop for Mr. Pafko to sign. I never met Mr. Pafko, and regret it to this day. But I will always have his signature (look how clean it is...and he was in his 80's when he signed the book).

My condolences go out to the Pafko family and friends.

May you find your way to the Field of Dreams.


JayBee Anama

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