Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lelands: Waner and Wheat

Lelands auction house just closed their April internet auction that had a couple of nice Dodger related items. They are both photos of Hall of Fame players wearing Dodger uniforms. Here is a pic of Paul "Big Poison" Waner taking a swing during Spring Training in 1943.

Paul Waner was elected into the Hall of Fame for collecting over 3,000 hits with 3 batting titles while batting a lifetime .333 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. By the time be came to the Dodgers he was in the twilight of his career. He played for us during parts of the 1941 season and from the 1943 to 1944. What he is most famous for, though, is not what you might expect.
(Waner was) 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.

Below is a photograph of Dodger Hall of Famer Zach Wheat from 1912. What I like about the photo is the uniforms. This style was only used during the 1912 season and features a Baseball diamond surrounding the Brooklyn "B" emblem hat and a white pinstripe jersey. It sold for $362.09.

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