Always a threat to break up a no-hitter but never a party, Waner had some of the keenest bloodshot eyes in baseball. One year he announced he was on the wagon, but when his batting average hovered around .250, his manager personally shepherded him to his nearest watering hole. Within a few weeks, he was back over .300.
Starring with his brother, Lloyd Waner, in the Pirate outfield from 1927-1940, Paul Waner, known as "Big Poison," was a line drive hitter with great bat control who reached the 3,000-hit plateau. He captured 3 National League batting titles, hitting .300 or better 14 times, and he collected 200 or more hits on eight occasions. Paul compiled a .333 career batting average, and collected 3,152 base hits.
A splendid five-tool player, Paul won the NL MVP in 1927. Both brothers were speedy outfielders, and Paul possessed perhaps the strongest arm seen in a Pittsburgh outfield until Roberto Clemente arrived.
After the Pirates released him, Paul played into WWII with the Braves and Dodgers, pursuing 3,000 hits. In 1942 the Braves visited Forbes Field with Waner at 2,999. The shortstop knocked down a drive but Paul beat it out. It might have been a hit, but Paul quickly and openly signaled he didn't want a tainted 3,000th. The scorer obliged by charging the shortstop with an error. On June 19, 1942 he lined the ball off Forbes's right-field wall to become the sixth player ever to reach 3,000 hits.
"I saw a lot of good hitters but I never saw a better one than Paul Waner. I mean,
I once threw a side arm spitter right into his belly and he hit it into the upper deck."
- Burleigh Grimes
"I may have got (Paul) Waner out, but I never fooled him."
- Burleigh Grimes
Picture from National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc.
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