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Dodgers rewind: Tom Paciorek

Looking back at ‘Wimpy’

Tom Paciorek’s 1975 Topps baseball card.
Tom Paciorek’s 1975 Topps baseball card.

Since the Dodgers played the White Sox last week, that made me think of Tom Paciorek, who played the first six of his 18 years as a major league player with Los Angeles.

Paciorek was part of the famed Dodgers 1968 draft, picked in the fifth round. That year’s prospect haul for Los Angeles is widely considered as the best draft year in major league history, with the Dodgers adding Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, Bill Buckner, Doyle Alexander, Bobby Valentine, Geoff Zahn, and a handful of others.

The back of Tom Paciorek’s 1975 Topps baseball card.
The back of Tom Paciorek’s 1975 Topps baseball card.

I grew up listening to Paciorek on White Sox broadcasts on WGN, and assumed his nickname “Wimpy” was coined by his play-by-play announcer, Hawk Harrelson, who was known to bestow monikers around the game. But the origin of “Wimpy” came from Tommy Lasorda, when he managed Paciorek in the Dodgers minors.

Paciorek played baseball and football at the University of Houston, and was even drafted by the Miami Dolphins as a defensive back in the ninth round in 1968. He decided on baseball, and hung around the game for nearly five decades.

What I didn’t realize before recording this episode was that Paciorek had an interception for Houston in a season-opening win over future baseball teammate Steve Garvey and Michigan State in 1967.

Though mostly a bench player with the Dodgers, he found success as a regular after leaving Los Angeles. Traded to Atlanta as part of the Dusty Baker deal, Paciorek posted a 106 OPS+ over his final 12 seasons, with the Braves, Mariners, White Sox, Mets, and Rangers. He also once had five hits in a game he didn’t even start, which may or may not be a record depending on your definition of modern.

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Episode link (time: 23:42)