An interesting group of Cubs related birthdays on this 25th of February. The young rising prospect outfield Jorge Soler turns 21 today, he’s getting major hype already. Not just from the Cubs and me, but here’s a fresh article from FOX Sports by Ken Rosenthal. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s Soler’s bomb from the Cubs intrasquad game last Thursday.
Today would have been the late Ron Santo’s 73d birthday. The legendary Cubs third baseman and broadcaster made it to baseball’s Hall of Fame, sadly it was after he had passed. Ron was a special person, whose greatest contribution may have been the incredible work he did for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I was lucky enough to get to sit next to Ron each spring in the press box starting in 1990 when he transitioned to a Cubs broadcaster. As many of you already know, at old Hohokam Park there were no separate booths, so when broadcasting Ron sat right next to me. It was often crazy hectic up in that press box with everyone working open air and side-by-side, but sitting next to Ron was a thrill I’ll always remember fondly.
While Soler and Santo’s birthdayshave been tweeted around the Cubs universe today, one Cubs birthday of interest seems to have been forgotten. He is one of only two living persons (Lennie Merullo being the other) to have played in a World Series for the Chicago Cubs. Talk about a small fraternity. Happy Birthday to Andy Pafko, who turns 92 today!
Pafko, a Boyceville, Wisconsin native may be more remembered for the chapter written about him by Roger Kahn in Kahn’s transcendent book The Boys of Summer (the inspiration for my website name). The book chronicles the Brooklyn Dodgers during the early 1950’s and follows up with interviews of those players twenty years later. Pafko only had a brief stay with the Dodgers in 1951-52, but played parts of 9 seasons with the Cubs, including the 1945 season when the Cubs lost to the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Pafko was also the left fielder standing at the wall on Bobby Thompson’s “shot heard round the world” in the famous playoff game between the Dodgers and Giants in 1951. I guess it is appropriate that the Cubs play the Dodgers today.