Friday, October 11, 2013
Andy Pafko 1921-2013
By Dan | @DGood73
Andy Pafko was Number One.
The 1940s and 1950s All-Star outfielder - who died this week at the age of 92 - forged a respectable career, contributing to pennant-winning squads in Brooklyn and Milwaukee.
But Pafko's most enduring legacy was built by rubber bands and bike spokes.
Pafko appears on the first card in the most famous post-war baseball card set, 1952 Topps. Since collectors often arrange cards in numerical order, first cards are regularly condition-sensitive.
Add 1950s collector indifference to condition and the release's over-sized dimensions, and Pafko's card has become one of the hobby's most sought-after finds.
That status was affirmed in 1998, when a high-grade version of the card sold for more than $80,000.
No gem-mint versions of Pafko's card have ever emerged. PSA and Beckett have graded more than 1,100 of the card's red and black-back versions.
Four of those cards have received a grade of 8, none higher.
Baseball fans might simply remember him as "Handy Andy," a dependable outfielder who camped under Bobby Thompson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" and won a World Series in 1957. But in a condition-sensitive, Mantle-headlined set, Andy Pafko remains Number One.