Lucky Lohrke footnote

In this year’s Hardball Times Annual, I had a lot of fun writing about Jack “Lucky” Lohrke, the infielder with modest stats but vast quantities of luck in the field, on the battlefront and in the air. One of his many qualifications as a Player of Luck was his presence on the roster of the 1951 Giants. In fact, he was warming up to play third base when Bobby Thomson hit his shot heard round the world and won the pennant for the Giants.

So it caught my eye when, beginning to read Joshua Prager’s The Echoing Green, I discovered that Lohrke had played an even more important role in the Giants’ success.

Evidently, the Giants had wanted to trade Thomson before the trading deadline in 1951. He was slumping, and the young phenom Willie Mays had been brought up to play center field for the next twenty years or so. So the Giants offered Thomson and another player to the Cubs for Andy Pafko. The Dodgers also wanted Pafko, however, and they eventually got him. Thomson stayed the Giants.

Many people thought the Dodgers had managed to trade for the pennant when they obtained Pafko, and they were almost right. But Thomson changed all that on the very last day, the very last inning, of the regular season with his heroic blast. It turned out to be one of those “non-trades” that worked out very well after all. It was truly serendipitous that the deal didn’t go down.

And the other Giant who would have been included in the deal? Jack Lohrke.

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Steve Treder
Steve Treder

And, just to bring all the symmetry to a perfect finish, Thomson’s home run sailed over the Polo Grounds left field wall, above the forlornly, helplessly watching Dodger left fielder:  Andy Pafko.