Tuesday, April 6, 2021

1986 Sportflics Decade Greats: Waner/Medwick/Averill


Paul Waner: Though not much of a power hitter, Paul Waner was one of the most reliable hitters in the National League, with a career .333 average over 20 seasons, mostly for the Pirates, winning three NL batting titles and topping 200 hits eight times. A hard drinker even by baseball standards, Waner would take a shot of whiskey before every at bat, claiming it helped him see the ball better. Casey Stengel famously said of Waner,  “He had to be a very graceful player because he could slide without breaking the bottle on his hip.” After his career he was a professional and youth coach.

Joe Medwick: Joe Medwick was hated by pitchers because of his skill with the bat. Arguably the best hitter in the National League in the late 1930s, he led the NL in doubles and RBI each season from 1936-1938. His 64 doubles in 1936 are still the National League record. He was hated by everyone due to his combative, selfish nature. While with the Cardinals, Medwick was pulled from the seventh game of the 1934 World Series by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis after Medwick kicked at Tigers third baseman Marv Owen after spiking him sliding into third base, and the Tiger fans were getting out of control. In 1941, now with the Dodgers, he was knocked unconscious by a beanball thrown by former teammate Bob Bowman after getting in a fight with the Cardinals pitcher in the elevator of the New Yorker Hotel the day before. After his career he mellowed out somewhat and coached for the Cardinals for a while.

Earl Averill: Less colorful than Waner or Medwick, Earl Averill was a steady presence for the Indians throughout the '30s. In his career that spanned from 1929 to 1941, Averill hit .318 with 401 doubles, 128 triples and 238 home runs. Chronic back problems shortened his career. Known as the "Earl of Snohomish", he operated the Earl Averill Motel in that Washington town from 1949 to 1970.


  1. Three greats that don't get talked about very often in modern times. Didn't realize Medwick was so disliked.

    1. And I didn't realize that Paul Waner was a drunkard!