Former Cubs great Andy Pafko, who played center field the last time the team made it to the World Series, died Tuesday at age 92, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Pafko, a longtime Mount Prospect resident, had been living in a nursing home in Michigan, the Milwaukee newspaper reported. He was one of the last links to the elusive fall classic for Cubs fans and stood out for his 17-year baseball career that included four World Series appearances for three different teams.
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Born in Boyceville, Wis., and raised on a 200-acre dairy farm, Pafko often credited his upbringing milking cows for giving him the hand strength to grip a bat properly, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.
He joined the Cubs in 1943, leading them to their last World Series appearance to date in 1945 against the Detroit Tigers. He played with them until being traded to the Dodgers in 1951, where he also played in a World Series.
In 1953, he was traded to the Braves and remained with them until his career ended in 1959. He played two additional World Series during that time.
Pafko continued to make appearances into his 80s, participating in events where he talked about the game with other former players.
A longtime friend of Hall-of-Famer Joe DiMaggio, he told the Daily Herald in 1999 of one of his favorite moments in his career.
"Being on the same field with Joe was one of my biggest thrills in baseball," Pafko said. "I had a lot of big moments, but that first time in Los Angeles, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.
"He could do it all on the ballfield. And everything he did was graceful."
Decades after his appearance in the 1945 World Series with the Cubs, he lamented that the team hasn't made it back for the fans.
"After all these years, they support the team win, lose or draw," he told the Daily Herald in 1999. "Rain or shine. The fans in Chicago are the most loyal ever. It is too bad they can't be rewarded for their loyalty."