Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates, 1927-1941; 1944-1945; Boston Braves, 1941; Cincinnati Reds, 1941; Philadelphia Phillies, 1942; Brooklyn Dodgers, 1944
Lloyd Waner was one of the smallest men to achieve star status. At 5'9' and just 135 pounds when he came up, he was even smaller than his diminutive older brother Paul. Lloyd played center field in the Pirates outfield alongside Paul in right for 14 campaigns.
Waner had an impressive rookie season
and established several records.
The brothers’ nicknames “Big Poison” and “Little Poison” are Brooklynese for “big and little person.” He may not have been the hitter his big brother Paul was, but Lloyd compiled some impressive stats.
Lloyd James Waner (1906-1982) was born in Harrah, Oklahoma, where he emulated his older brother, Paul. Paul in 1924 hit .365 for the San Francisco Seals in the Pacific Coast League and garnered a tryout for Lloyd. Lloyd made the Seals in 1925, mostly as a defensive replacement, but was dropped early in 1926. Paul was signed by Pittsburgh in 1926, where he promptly sold Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss on Lloyd.
Lloyd hit .345 at Columbia in the South Atlantic League in ’26, and wowed Pirate skipper Donie Bush in spring training in 1927. The Pirates were in the process of replacing Hall of Fame outfielders Max Carey and Kiki Cuyler at the time, so Bush may have been primed to be impressed.
Lloyd’s first three seasons were by far his best, as he hit .355, .335, and .353, and collected more than 200 hits and scored 120-plus runs each season. His 198 singles in his 1927 rookie season still stand as a record, as do his 223 rookie hits. He missed most of the 1930 season because of a bout with appendicitis, but rebounded in 1931 to post a .314 average and collect 214 hits.
Though he never sustained production like that again, he was a high-average hitter and one of the game’s fastest men and best outfielders for years. Lloyd led all NL flyhawkers in putouts four times, though he had below-average arm strength.
He had very little power, hitting just 28 homers in his career, though he led the league in triples in 1929 with 20. Lloyd was one of the toughest batters to fan, with just 173 strikeouts in 7,772 at bats, or about once every 45 at bats. The Waner boys’ only World Series appearance was their 1927 ill-fated run-in with the legendary “Murderer’s Row” Yankees, yet Lloyd did his part, hitting .400 and scoring five runs in the four games.
Little Poison retired after playing in only 100 games with the 1942 Phillies. He staged a comeback during the war years of 1944 and ’45 with the Dodgers and finally the Pirates, but was used sparingly as a pinch hitter. He retired after the 1945 season. In 1967, the Veterans Committee elected Lloyd to the Hall of Fame.
Here are Lloyd Waner's major league totals:
| BA||G ||AB ||R||H||2B||3B||HR ||RBI ||SB |
|.316||1,992||7,772 ||1,201||2,459||281||118 ||28 ||598 ||67|
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