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.
Yesterday free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki held a workout in California and representatives from at least eleven teams were on hand, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo. Among the clubs present: the Giants — who were said to have a “heavy presence,” including team president Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy — the Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates.
Your first reaction to that may be “Um, really? For Tulowitzki?” But a moment’s reflection makes it seem more sensible. We’re so tied up in thinking of a player through the filter of their contract and, when we’ve done that with Tulowitzki over the past several years, it has made him seem like an albatross given the $20 million+ a year he was earning to either not play or play rather poorly due to injuries.
It was just the contract that was the albatross, though, right? An almost free Tulowitzki — which he will be given that the Blue Jays are paying him $38 million over the next two seasons — is a different matter. If you sign him it’ll be for almost no real money and he stands a chance to be an average or maybe better-than-average shortstop, which is pretty darn valuable. You might even get one quirky late career return-to-near-glory season from him, in which case you’ve hit the lottery. If, however, as seems more likely, he just can’t get it done at all, you’re not out anything and you can cut him with little or no pain.
Eleven teams think he’s at least a look-see. I bet one of them will offer him a major league deal. Maybe more than one. He’ll probably have his pick of non-roster invites to spring training. I can’t see the downside to at least doing that much.