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Paul Glee Waner (April 16, 1903 - August 29, 1965) was a German-American player in professional baseball who, along with his brother Lloyd, starred in the Pittsburgh Pirates' outfield in the 1920s and 1930s. Born in Harrah, Oklahoma and nicknamed "Big Poison," he led the National League in batting on three occasions (1927, 1934, and 1936) and accumulated over 3,000 hits in his career from 1926 to 1945. He collected 200 or more hits on eight occasions, was voted the NL's Most Valuable Player in 1927, and compiled a lifetime batting average of .333. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1952. He is tied with Chipper Jones with the Major League record for consecutive games with an extra-base hit, with 14 (June 6 through June 20, 1927).
After playing the first fifteen years of his career with the Pirates, he ended his career playing for the Dodgers (1941, '43-44), Boston Braves (1941-42) and New York Yankees (1944-45). Famous for his ability to hit while hung over, when Waner gave up drinking in 1938 at management's request, he hit only .280 - the first of only two times that he failed to hit .300 as a Pirate. As Casey Stengel said in complimenting his base-running skills, "He had to be a very graceful player, because he could slide without breaking the bottle on his hip."
Waner was also nearsighted, a fact that Pirate management only learned late in his career when he remarked that he had difficulty reading the ads posted on the outfield walls. Fitting him with glasses, however, only interfered with his hitting, as Waner now had to contend with a small spinning projectile rather than the fuzzy grapefruit-sized object he had been hitting before.
Waner died in Sarasota, Florida at age 62. In 1999, he ranked Number 62 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
He (3,152) and his younger brother, Lloyd (2,459), hold the career record for hits by brothers (5,611), outpacing the three Alou brothers (5,094): Felipe (2,101), Matty (1,777) and Jesús (1,216), and the three DiMaggio brothers (4,853): Joe (2,214), Dom (1,680) and Vince (959), among others. For most of the period from 1927 to 1940, Paul patrolled right field at Forbes Field while Lloyd covered the ground next to him in center field. Paul was known as "Big Poison" and Lloyd was known as "Little Poison." A possibly apocryphal story claims that their nicknames reflect a Brooklyn Dodgers fan's pronunciation of "Big Person" and "Little Person." In 1927, the season the brothers accumulated 460 hits, the fan is said to have remarked, "Them Waners! It's always the little poison on thoid (third) and the big poison on foist (first)!" But given that Lloyd was actually taller, this story would seem somewhat incongruous.
The Pirates retired Waner's No. 11 in a ceremony before their game vs. the Astros on July 21, 2007, the anniversary of Paul's 1952 Hall of Fame induction. A plaque has been placed in the interior of PNC Park to commemorate the retiring of Paul Waner's jersey. His brother, Lloyd Waner was selected the Hall of Fame in 1967 partly because of the publicity generated by Paul Waner's death in 1965 (subsequent to last regular election. Another factor which contributed to Lloyd's somewhat premature election was an error on historian "Lee Allen]]'s stat sheet which showed Lloyd Waner's lifetime average as .331 instead of .316 .
- List of Major League Baseball Hit Records
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- 3000 hit club
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