Chippewa Falls author remembers Andy Pafko

by Marlys Kruger

Although Boyceville native and former professional baseball player Andy Pafko has been mentioned in several books, most often dealing with the Chicago Cubs, there has yet to be a book written completely on Pafko’s life from a small child until his death almost a year ago. That is until Joe Niese, a librarian/information services coordinator for the Chippewa Falls Public Library by day and a sports author by night decided to write one.

“I have always loved sports but baseball is my passion,” Niese said in a phone interview. “I played baseball until the early 2000s then began writing articles on baseball for local magazines. I wrote my first book on Burleigh Grimes, a famous professional player who is from Clear Lake, WI (Burleigh Grimes, Baseball’s Last Legal Spitballer) and several people encouraged me to look into Andy Pafko’s life and maybe do a story on him because he had a very interesting life, After talking to Andy’s good friend Dave Labaree from Boyceville and long time teacher and coach Pete Holmlund (also from Boyceville), I decided I would have enough information for a book. I also have gotten information and photos from Andy’s nephew Frank Pafko and  Joe Pieters, and talked with neighbors and friends of the Pafko family.”

The book is titled “Handy Andy: The Andy Pafko Story”and will be self published by Niese because he wants it completed by February 25, which would be Pafko’s birthday. Next summer is also the 70th anniversary of the Cubs last World Series team which Pafko played on. The book will be more indepth than any of the articles, newspaper interviews or chapters in books that have been written on Pafko.

“I didn’t want to just write the same things that everyone already knew,” Niese said. “So I hope some of the stories about Andy will be new to all of his friends and fans. Boyceville and Dunn County have a right to be proud of having someone like him as a native. Everyone I talked to said he was a great man, very humble and always remembered his roots.”

Because there are several photos Niese would like to include in his book that are very costly ($500 for the picture of “The Shot Heard Round the World” with Pafko playing left field), Niese is looking for some help getting the book published. His Kickstarter campaign will run until Sept. 30 and anyone who donates $25 or more will receive a free copy of the book. Rewards such as more books, acknowledgement in the book, bookmarks, posters and postcards increase if you donate more money.

When asked if he would be writing more books dealing with local sports heros, Niece said he attempted to reach Jerry Koosman, former pitcher for the Miracle Mets who won the 1969 World Series (and also played for the Twins, Phillies and White Sox) who now lives in Osceola, WI.

“Apparently there were several New York writers who wanted to do his story and one of them may be writing it,” Niece said. “So I haven’t pursued it. If anyone knows of someone interesting in the local sports world that would make a good book, they can contact me.”

To donate to the Kickstarter, you may go to www.kickstarter.com/projects/1432921347/handy-andy-the-andy-pafko-story

If you would like to preorder a copy of the book you may send a check for $25 per book to: Joe Niese, 636 Macomber St., Chippewa Falls, WI 54729.