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October 10, 2013

Andy Pafko, four-time MLB All-Star, dies at 92

MILWAUKEE — Andy Pafko, a four-time All-Star who played on the last Chicago Cubs team to reach the World Series and was the famously forlorn outfielder who watched Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” sail over the left-field wall during the 1951 National League playoff, has died. He was 92.

Pafko, who had Alzheimer’s disease, died Tuesday at a nursing home in Stevensville, Mich., said his nephew, Michael Nedoba.

A fan favorite known for his dogged play and diving catches, Pafko played with Jackie Robinson for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951, and with Hank Aaron as a Milwaukee Brave from 1954-59. But 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 win in the decisive Game 3 of their NL playoff against the Dodgers at the Polo Grounds.

“The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” shouted broadcaster Russ Hodges, one of the signature moments in major league history.

The Giants went to the World Series. The Dodgers went home.

“Everybody remembers who was the pitcher, but nobody remembers I was the outfielder who watched it go over the fence,” Pafko said in a 1999 interview with The Associated Press. “That was the biggest disappointment of my whole career. I wanted to go to the World Series.”

Thomson later became Pafko’s teammate and roommate with the Braves — and “Bobby never wanted to talk about that homer after that,” said Pafko, whose death was first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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