You may not know who Andy Pafko was, but you’ve seen him. He shows up ever so briefly here, at the left field wall, at the 27-second mark:
That quick shot of Andy Pafko watching Bobby Thomson’s pennant-winning home run go over the wall is part of one of baseball’s greatest moments (or worst, depending on your point of view). It also inspired the prologue to Don DeLillo’s epic novel Underworld, entitled “Pafko at the Wall.”
Andy Pafko died yesterday at the age of 92.
Pafko was more than a small detail in a grander moment. He was an excellent outfielder. He played in the majors for 17 years. He came up with the Cubs, for whom he played in the 1945 World Series. He returned to the World Series with the Dodgers in 1952 and the Braves in 1957 and 1958.
He was a four-time All-Star who picked up MVP votes in multiple seasons. For his career he hit .285/.350/.449 with 213 homer runs and 976 RBI. Maybe not a guy who, if he was your best hitter, could lead you to the World Series himself, but a good-to-excellent player who would be at home on any pennant winner. A pretty profoundly overlooked player by modern fans, I’d say.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.