Thursday, February 25, 2016

Santo and Pafko

Two of the biggest stars in Cubs history were born on this day...

~Ron Santo 1940 (Cubs 1960-1973, Cubs announcer 1990-2010)
He was the captain of that ill-fated (but incredibly talented) 1969 Cubs team–the man who clicked his heels after each Cubs victory. Santo was also the one who had the black cat cross his path while he stood in the on-deck circle in New York. Ron Santo is a Hall of Famer, something he wanted to be more than anything else in the world. Unfortunately, he wasn’t inducted until after his death. His credentials should never have been questioned. Santo was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glover at third base. He hit 342 homers, and was the dominant player at his position (in the National League) during his playing days. And he did it all despite suffering from diabetes. After his playing career he joined the Cubs radio broadcast booth, teaming up with the great Pat Hughes. He lost both legs to diabetes during his broadcasting days, and made an even stronger bond with Cub fans. He never complained about his medical misfortune, and he exhibited the same kind of raw emotion that Cub fans experienced: Incredible joy when they won, and pure agony when they lost. His number was retired in 2003 and a #10 flag now flies on the left field foul pole at Wrigley Field. (PHoto: Topps 1970 Baseball Card)

~Andy Pafko 1929 (Cubs 1943-1951)
Nicknamed “Handy Andy,” because of his incredibly dependable hitting and fielding, Pafko was one of the most popular Cubs, and a star of their last World Series team of 1945. “Handy Andy” was a five-time all-star during his Cubs career, the first three times as an outfielder (although one of those times, 1945, they didn’t play the all-star game because of the war). After legendary Cubs’ third baseman Stan Hack retired after the 1947 season, Pafko replaced him on the hot corner long enough to be named an All-Star there too, making him one of the few people to achieve All-Star status in both the infield and outfield. His 1950 season can only be described as “DiMaggio-esque”. That year Andy Pafko knocked the ball out of National League ballparks 36 times while only striking out 32 times. Only 14 players have ever accomplished that feat. Pafko’s 1950 season was so impressive that Reds’ president Warren Giles said if he could choose any player in the National League to help improve his team, he would choose Pafko. Naturally, Handy Andy was rewarded for that incredible season in true Cubs fashion. He was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was crushed when the Cubs traded him, and it was a trade that Chicago would forever regret. The players they got in return had almost no impact with the Cubs, while Pafko would go on to play in the 1952 World Series with the Dodgers and the 1957 and 1958 World Series with the Braves. He came back to his hometown of Chicago after his playing career was over, settling in the northwestern suburbs, and passed away in 2013 at the age of 92. (Photo: Bowman 1949 Baseball Card)

Other Cubs born on this day include Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, current Cub Jorge Soler, former Cub GM Ed Lynch, former Cub broadcaster Bob Brenley, and Cub fan Zeppo Marx. Read about them here.