Andy Pafko, 92, a former Brooklyn Dodger outfielder who famously watched Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" sail over the left-field wall of the Polo Grounds during the 1951 National League playoffs, died Tuesday at a nursing home in Stevensville, Mich. He had Alzheimer's disease, his family said.
Pafko spent 17 seasons in the major leagues — with the Chicago Cubs, Dodgers and Milwaukee Braves — and was voted an All-Star five times. A fan favorite known for his dogged play and diving catches, he is perhaps best remembered as being part of one of the most famous games in baseball history, when Thomson's three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth gave the New York Giants the victory in the decisive Game 3 of their NL playoff against the Dodgers at the Polo Grounds.
Thomson later became Pafko's teammate and roommate with the Braves — and "Bobby never wanted to talk about that homer," Pafko said.
Pafko was born Feb. 25, 1921, in Boyceville, Wis., and started his baseball career in Chicago in 1943. He was voted to the All-Star team in 1945, when the game was not played because of wartime travel restrictions, and helped the Cubs to the NL pennant that season. They lost to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, Chicago's last appearance in the postseason classic.
He was an All-Star from 1947 until 1950. He was traded to Brooklyn in 1951 and to Milwaukee in 1953, then retired in 1959.
Pafko's other three World Series appearances were all against the New York Yankees — 1952 with Brooklyn, and 1957 and 1958 with Milwaukee. The Braves won the series in 1957.
Pafko was a sought-after figure for baseball card collectors. One of them — a Topps card from 1952 in excellent condition — sold for nearly $84,000 in 1998.
Times staff and wire reports