Andy Pafko Dies: And Then There Was One

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

One of two surviving players from the Cubs' last World Series team in 1945 has passed away.

Yes, I know, I'm supposed to be on break from BCB, but this is important news, and rather than just tell Josh about it and give him some details on what to write, I figured I'd just write this up myself and then let you guys comment, and go back on my break again.

Andy Pafko, longtime Cubs outfielder who finished fourth in MVP voting for the 1945 National League champions, died Tuesday at age 92.

Pafko was also involved in one of the worst postwar trades made by then-Cubs GM Jim Gallagher, who sent Pafko, Johnny Schmitz, Wayne Terwilliger and Rube Walker to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Bruce Edwards, Joe Hatten, Gene Hermanski and Eddie Miksis at the then-trading deadline of June 15, 1951. The Cubs were still desperately trying to prove they could win after several bad seasons, and they panicked after losing eight of nine following a decent start. Edwards and Hatten were awful as Cubs; Miksis and Hermanski were okay, but Pafko went on not only to play in the 1952 World Series for the Dodgers, but in two for the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and 1958.

Here's the post, from the "Game From Cubs History" series last winter, about Pafko's first game, for the Dodgers against the Cubs, after the trade.

Pafko would have looked pretty good in left field in 1952 for the Cubs next to MVP Hank Sauer; that team finished 77-77, the only Cubs team between 1947 and 1966 that did not have a losing record.

That leaves just one living player from the 1945 Cubs pennant-winners -- Lennie Merullo, a light-hitting middle infielder who had just two at-bats in the World Series. Merullo will turn 97 next March and from all accounts, is still doing pretty well. You might recognize the surname, as Lennie's grandson Matt Merullo played briefly for the White Sox, Twins and Indians in the late 1980s and early 1990s and also part of 1996 in the Cubs' farm system at Iowa.

The photo at the top of this post is of Pafko throwing out a ceremonial first pitch at one of the NLCS games at Wrigley Field 10 years ago, in 2003. Sad to say, he won't get a chance to do that again at a Cubs World Series game. Condolences to his friends and family.

Heading back into my break... see you Friday, barring any other big news.

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