Drooker: Andy Pafko and the cardboard heroes
From SABR member Don Drooker at MastersBall.com on October 18, 2013:
Former Major League Outfielder Andy Pafko passed away last week at age 92 and the wire service story cited many highlights of his career. He was a four-time All-Star, played on the last Chicago Cubs team to reach the World Series (in 1945) and also played in three additional Fall Classics with the Dodgers and the Braves. Also, for trivia fans, he was Brooklyn's left fielder in the 1951 playoff game when Bobby Thomson's "shot heard round the world" home run sailed over his head.
What the casual fan or younger-than-50 sportswriter doesn't know is the impact Andy Pafko has had on card collectors for over two generations. Not every baseball card of significant value belongs to a Hall-of-Famer or star player. Sometimes, circumstance and timing create a legendary story about an everyday ballplayer. This is the joy and wonderment of card collecting and why it continues to be a passion for Baby Boomers everywhere.
In 1952, the Topps Company issued their first full set of baseball cards. Even though Bowman produced cards in the late 40's and early 50's, this was the first "modern set" with 407 cards in four series sold in packs with bubble gum. To this day, the "holy grail" of modern cards is the Mickey Mantle issue from this set. It was the first card in the last series (#311), which meant that it had a scarcity value in addition to the popularity of the player. Today, if you owned a "Near Mint" (NM 7) version of this card, it would be worth $35,000! The set also includes Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Yogi Berra. The value of those four cards, however, pales in comparison to that of the card of Andy Pafko.
Related link: Read the SABR biography of Andy Pafko by Dale Voiss
This page was last updated October 18, 2013 at 10:53 am MST.