Thursday, April 5, 2007

Paul Waner...Big Poison

Paul Waner was Big Poison and his brother Lloyd was Little Poison.
As the story goes, it was believed that Paul got his nickname from the fans in Brooklyn. Because of the pronunciation of some words, politely referred to as Brooklynese, fans were saying "big person" but it sounded like Big Poison. If not for the fact that Lloyd was actually taller which makes this accusation somewhat inappropriate. The origin of the nicknames are otherwise unknown.

In 1927, the year he won the National League Most Valuable Player award, he set a major league record with extra-base hits in fourteen (14) consecutive games. Also, during that season, on May 30th against the Chicago Cubs, Jimmy Cooney leaped in the air to rob Big Poison of a hit and turned it into an unassisted triple play.

Famous for his ability to hit while hung over, when Waner gave up drinking in 1938, at management's request, he batted only .280. The only time he failed to hit .300 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. (He started his Pirate career in 1926, after spending 1923-25 with the Pacific Coast League's San Francisco Seals.)

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 near-sighted, a fact 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, interfered with his hitting, as now Waner had to contend with a small spinning projectile rather than the fuzzy grapefruit-sized object he had been hitting before.

(This may explain his hitting the sauce. He may have preferred blurry over crystal-clear. And if his nickname of Big Poison had anything to do with his drinking, it's interesting to note how much better he did while under the influence than when he wasn't in a fog.)

If Hollywood were to make a movie, the Paul Waner story, who would you want to play the part? Dudley Moore, God rest his soul, is no longer with us.

KevinMarquez as taken from Baseball