Editor’s note: Gimme 5 is a five-question interview on a topic of local interest.
Who is Andy Pafko?
An easy way to know Andy Pafko is to read the bronze plaque that sits in Boyceville in what is still known as Andy Pafko Athletic Park. It reads: Andy Pafko, “The Kid from Boyceville,” was born on a farm in New Haven township, on February 25, 1921. A fan favorite in Chicago and Milwaukee, “Handy Andy” played for the Cubs from 1943 to the mid-1951 season before being traded to the Dodgers. In 1953 he joined the Braves, their first season in Milwaukee, delighting fans with dramatic sliding outfield catches and steady hitting. The lifetime .285 slugger also belted 213 career homers. Highlights of Pafko’s 17-year career were four World Series appearances (one each with the Cubs and Dodgers, two with the Braves) and four All-Star games, hitting .400. Following the 1959 season Andy became a Braves coach.
What will people see or hear at this event?
At 2 p.m. attendees will hear a presentation by Joe Niese on Andy Pafko. A newly acquired Andy Pafko card collection will be on display for this event only. And a 1952 Topps Andy Pafko card will be placed on permanent display inside the museum for people to see.
Why did the historical society decide to have an event to honor Pafko?
I do not think people realize just what a good player Pafko really was. It is fascinating to me and many that a man of such talent and compassion is from Boyceville.
How unusual is it to have a 1952 Topps card of Pafko on display?
Dunn County Historical Society was fortunate enough to receive the collection from Rob Strand. The collection is roughly 75 different cards, manuals, posters, and other items of interest. The 1952 Topps Andy Pafko card is the rarest of his.
The event speaker is author Joe Niese. Tell me about him.
Niese, of Chippewa Falls, is a librarian and member of the Society for American Baseball Research. His articles on baseball have appeared in The National Pastime and Nine: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture. His first book, “Burleigh Grimes: Baseball’s Last Legal Spitballer,” was published in spring 2013. In 2015 he released his second book, “Handy Andy: The Andy Pafko Story,” which he will be presenting on at the event. Niese will have copies on hand to sell and sign.
— Pamela Powers