Maury Wills, Base-Stealing Shortstop For Dodgers, Dies At 89

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Maury Wills, who intimidated pitchers together with his base-stealing prowess as a shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers on three World Collection championship groups, has died. He was 89.

Wills died Monday evening at dwelling in Sedona, Arizona, the staff mentioned Tuesday after being knowledgeable by members of the family. No reason for loss of life was given.

Wills performed on World Collection title groups in 1959, ’63 and ’65 throughout his first eight seasons with the Dodgers. He additionally performed for Pittsburgh and Montreal earlier than returning to the Dodgers from 1969-72, when he retired.

Throughout his 14-year profession, Wills batted .281 with 2,134 hits and 586 stolen bases in 1,942 video games.

Wills broke Ty Cobb’s single-season file for stolen bases together with his 97th swipe on Sept. 23, 1962. That season he turned the primary participant to steal greater than 100 bases.

The Dodgers will put on a patch in reminiscence of Wills for the remainder of this season.

“Maury Wills was one of the most exciting Dodgers of all time,” staff president and CEO Stan Kasten mentioned. “He changed baseball with his base-running and made the stolen base an important part of the game. He was very instrumental in the success of the Dodgers with three world championships.”

Wills had an ill-fated stint managing the Seattle Mariners from 1980-81, going 26-56 with a successful proportion of .317.

He was the Nationwide League Most Precious Participant in 1962, the identical 12 months he was MVP of the All-Star Recreation performed in his hometown of Washington, D.C.

Wills stayed at dwelling together with his household as a substitute of on the staff resort for the All-Star Recreation. He arrived on the ballpark carrying a Dodgers bag and carrying a Dodgers shirt. Nonetheless, the safety guard wouldn’t let him in, saying he was too small to be a ballplayer.

Wills instructed the guard escort him to the NL clubhouse door, the place he would wait whereas the guard requested the gamers to substantiate his id.

“So we walk down there and baseball players have a sick sense of humor, because when I stood in front of the door, with my Dodger shirt and duffel bag, and the man opened the door and said, ‘Anybody in here know this boy?’ and they all looked at me and said, ’Never saw him before,” Wills advised The Washington Put up in 2015.

After the sport, Wills left together with his MVP trophy and confirmed it to the guard.

“He still didn’t believe me, he thought maybe I was carrying it for somebody,” Wills advised the Put up.

Wills led the NL in stolen bases from 1960-65, was a seven-time All-Star choice and gained Gold Glove Awards in 1961 and ’62.

He was credited with reviving the stolen base as a method. His velocity made him a relentless menace on the basepaths and he distracted pitchers even when he didn’t attempt to steal. He fastidiously studied pitchers and their pickoff strikes when he wasn’t on base. When a pitcher’s throw drove him again to the bag, he turned much more decided to steal.

As soon as, in a sport towards the New York Mets, Wills was on first base when pitcher Roger Craig threw 12 straight instances to the bag. On Craig’s subsequent throw, Wills stole second.

By age 32, Wills was bandaging his legs earlier than video games due to the punishment of sliding.

After retiring with the Dodgers in 1972, Wills labored an analyst at NBC for 5 years. He additionally managed winter ball within the Mexican Pacific League, successful a league championship in 1970-71.

Wills’ tenure managing the Mariners was largely considered a catastrophe and he was criticized for his lack of managerial expertise. It was evident within the quite a few gaffes he dedicated, together with calling for a reduction pitcher when no one was warming up within the bullpen and holding up a sport for a number of minutes whereas in search of a pinch hitter.

Wills’ largest mistake got here on April 25, 1981, when he ordered the Mariners’ floor crew to increase the batter’s field a foot longer towards the mound than regulation allowed. Oakland supervisor Billy Martin observed and requested dwelling plate umpire Invoice Kunkel to analyze.

Kunkel questioned the pinnacle groundskeeper, who admitted Wills had ordered the change. Wills mentioned it was to assist his gamers keep within the field. Nonetheless, Martin suspected it was to present the Mariners a bonus towards Oakland’s breaking-ball pitchers. Wills was suspended for 2 video games by the American League and fined $500.

Wills led the Mariners to a 20-38 file to finish the 1980 season, and he was fired on Might 6, 1981, when the staff was mired in final place at 6-18. Years later, Wills admitted he most likely ought to have gotten extra expertise as a minor league supervisor earlier than being employed within the massive leagues.

Wills struggled with addictions to alcohol and cocaine till getting sober in 1989. He credited Dodgers pitching nice Don Newcombe, who overcame his personal alcohol issues, with serving to him. Newcombe died in 2109.

“I’m standing here with the man who saved my life,” Wills mentioned of Newcombe. “He was a channel for God’s love for me because he chased me all over Los Angeles trying to help me and I just couldn’t understand that. But he persevered, he wouldn’t give in and my life is wonderful today because of Don Newcombe.”

Born Maurice Morning Wills in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 2, 1932, he was a three-sport standout at Cardozo Senior Excessive. He earned All-Metropolis honors as a quarterback in soccer, in basketball and as a pitcher in baseball when he was nicknamed Sonny.

In 1948, he performed on the college’s undefeated soccer staff, which by no means gave up any factors. On the mound, Wills threw a one-hitter and struck out 17 in a sport in 1950. The college’s baseball subject is called in his honor.

Wills has his personal museum in Fargo, North Dakota, the place he was a coach and teacher for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks from 1996-97.

He’s survived by spouse Carla, and kids Barry, Micki, Bump, Anita, Susan Quam and Wendi Jo Wills. Bump was a former main league second baseman who performed for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.

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