2. Paul Waner (1926-1940)
Playing baseball at the major league level is a very difficult thing to do. Playing baseball while drunk and nearsighted, and without wearing glasses, has to be virtually impossible. However, if you happened to be Paul Waner, you did just that en route to being one of the greatest right fielders in baseball history.
Waner was truly a savant with the bat, making an immediate impact from the moment he first put on the Pittsburgh Pirates uniform. He hit 22 triples in his rookie year to lead the National League, and his 191 career triples rank tenth all time. Yet, Waner was more than a triples machine, as his .340/.407/.490 batting line with the Pirates indicates. He also hit 558 doubles and drove in 1177 runs during his time in Pittsburgh.
Given his questionable sobriety and vision, one would have expected that Paul Waner would have been an adventure in the field. That was not the case. Despite not being able to read the advertisements on the outfield fence, Waner made 4807 putouts in right, setting the career mark. Possessing a cannon of an arm, Waner’s 238 assists as a right fielder are second all time. He ranks fifth all time with in range factor. Waner was truly a tremendous right fielder.
Joe Tronzo, the sports editor for the News-Tribune in Beaver Falls, PA, once said that “Paul Waner, when he was sober, was the best right fielder the Pirates ever had. The second best right fielder the Pirates ever had was Paul Waner when he was drunk.” One could certainly make that case.
Next: A life lost far too soon