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Why Paul Hines could be the most interesting man in baseball history

You might ask, "Who is Paul Hines?" And my response would be, "Who isn't he?"

Although baseball statistics from the late-19th and early 20th century are a bit fuzzy, Hines appears to be one of the greatest players of his era. In 1878, the Providence Grays center fielder won the game's first Triple Crown with 4 home runs, 50 RBIs and a .358 batting average. He continued to lead the league in hitting the next season with a .357 average, and would finish in the top 20 of most offensive categories throughout his 15-year career.

Hines was also rumored to turn the first unassisted triple play in Major League history, along with about 11 other firsts, but many of these claims were disputed by teammates -- keeping him from the Hall of Fame. Jealousy.

In his private life, Hines was an especially interesting character. He once accepted a challenge to catch a baseball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument -- an event which was later cancelled. The star also had a way with the ladies and his tight-fitting shirts were said to bring a "blush to the face of many a fair maid."

Today marks the anniversary of the day Hines was arrested for pick-pocketing in 1922 at the age of 69. Police found pocketbooks, wallets and about 25 pairs of glasses at his home.

Although his professional and personal feats are questionable, Paul Hines still has to be one of the most fascinating characters in the history of the game. I mean, c'mon, some of it has to be true.

-- Matt Monagan /