"I may have got (Paul) Waner out, but I never fooled him." – Burleigh Grimes
For 14 seasons, brothers Paul and Lloyd Waner were synonymous with Pittsburgh Pirates baseball. Paul "Big Poison" Waner patrolled right field for the Pirates from 1926 through ’40, while younger brother Lloyd, known as "Little Poison," manned center for all but one of those seasons.
Led by the Waners, the Pirates of the 1920s and ’30s consistently ranked among the National League's top run-scoring outfits. Paul and Lloyd Waner combined to strike 5,611 hits, the most ever by two brothers. Paul owned 3,152 of those hits and became just the seventh member of the 3,000-hit club in 1942.
Even in an era of high offensive production, Paul Waner stood out from the crowd. The left-handed hitting Waner, who finished his 20-year career with a .333 lifetime average, won three National League batting titles and totaled 909 extra base hits.
In his second season with Pittsburgh, Waner batted .380 in 1927 to claim his first batting title en route to the NL Most Valuable Player Award. He also led the NL with 131 RBI and 237 hits in ’27, a pennant-winning year for the Pirates. Waner also collected NL batting titles in 1934 (.362) and ’36 (.373).
Few players were as well-rounded as Waner was at his peak. During his time in Pittsburgh, from 1926-40, he batted .340 and led all players with 2,868 hits, 558 doubles and 187 triples.
Released by the Pirates on Dec. 5, 1940, Waner played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves and New York Yankees during his final five seasons. He became the seventh member of the 3,000-hit club on June 19, 1942.
"He had remarkable agility, like an acrobat. Fifteen or 20 minutes of backflips and he was cold sober, ready to go out to the ball park and get his three hits," said teammate Buddy Hassett.
Waner was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1952. He passed away on Aug. 29, 1965.