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

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Maury Wills, who intimidated pitchers with his base-stealing prowess arsenic a shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers on 3 World Series title teams, has died. He was 89.

Wills died Monday nighttime astatine location successful Sedona, Arizona, the squad said Tuesday aft being informed by household members. No origin of decease was given.

Wills played connected World Series rubric teams successful 1959, ’63 and ’65 during his archetypal 8 seasons with the Dodgers. He besides played for Pittsburgh and Montreal earlier returning to the Dodgers from 1969-72, erstwhile helium retired.

During his 14-year career, Wills batted .281 with 2,134 hits and 586 stolen bases successful 1,942 games.

Wills broke Ty Cobb’s single-season grounds for stolen bases with his 97th swipe connected Sept. 23, 1962. That play helium became the archetypal subordinate to bargain much than 100 bases.

The Dodgers volition deterioration a spot successful representation of Wills for the remainder of this season.

“Maury Wills was 1 of the astir breathtaking Dodgers of each time,” squad president and CEO Stan Kasten said. “He changed shot with his base-running and made the stolen basal an important portion of the game. He was precise instrumental successful the occurrence of the Dodgers with 3 satellite championships.”

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

He was the National League Most Valuable Player successful 1962, the aforesaid twelvemonth helium was MVP of the All-Star Game played successful his hometown of Washington, D.C.

Wills stayed astatine location with his household alternatively of astatine the squad edifice for the All-Star Game. He arrived astatine the ballpark carrying a Dodgers container and wearing a Dodgers shirt. However, the information defender wouldn’t fto him in, saying helium was excessively tiny to beryllium a ballplayer.

Wills suggested the defender escort him to the NL clubhouse door, wherever helium would hold portion the defender asked the players to corroborate his identity.

“So we locomotion down determination and shot players person a sick consciousness of humor, due to the fact that erstwhile I stood successful beforehand of the door, with my Dodger garment and duffel bag, and the antheral opened the doorway and said, ‘Anybody successful present cognize this boy?’ and they each looked astatine maine and said, ’Never saw him before,” Wills told The Washington Post successful 2015.

After the game, Wills near with his MVP trophy and showed it to the guard.

“He inactive didn’t judge me, helium thought possibly I was carrying it for somebody,” Wills told the Post.

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

He was credited with reviving the stolen basal arsenic a strategy. His velocity made him a changeless menace connected the basepaths and helium distracted pitchers adjacent if helium didn’t effort to steal. He cautiously studied pitchers and their pickoff moves erstwhile helium wasn’t connected base. When a pitcher’s propulsion drove him backmost to the bag, helium became adjacent much determined to steal.

Once, successful a crippled against the New York Mets, Wills was connected archetypal basal erstwhile pitcher Roger Craig threw 12 consecutive times to the bag. On Craig’s adjacent throw, Wills stole second.

By property 32, Wills was bandaging his legs earlier games due to the fact that of the punishment of sliding.

After retiring with the Dodgers successful 1972, Wills worked an expert astatine NBC for 5 years. He besides managed wintertime shot successful the Mexican Pacific League, winning a league title successful 1970-71.

Wills’ tenure managing the Mariners was mostly regarded arsenic a catastrophe and helium was criticized for his deficiency of managerial experience. It was evident successful the galore gaffes helium committed, including calling for a alleviation pitcher erstwhile cipher was warming up successful the bullpen and holding up a crippled for respective minutes portion looking for a pinch hitter.

Wills’ biggest mistake came connected April 25, 1981, erstwhile helium ordered the Mariners’ crushed unit to widen the batter’s container a ft longer toward the mound than regularisation allowed. Oakland manager Billy Martin noticed and asked location sheet umpire Bill Kunkel to investigate.

Kunkel questioned the caput groundskeeper, who admitted Wills had ordered the change. Wills said it was to assistance his players enactment successful the box. However, Martin suspected it was to springiness the Mariners an vantage against Oakland’s breaking-ball pitchers. Wills was suspended for 2 games by the American League and fined $500.

Wills led the Mariners to a 20-38 grounds to extremity the 1980 season, and helium was fired connected May 6, 1981, erstwhile the squad was mired successful past spot astatine 6-18. Years later, Wills admitted helium astir apt should person gotten much acquisition arsenic a insignificant league manager earlier being hired successful the large leagues.

Wills struggled with addictions to intoxicant and cocaine until getting sober successful 1989. He credited Dodgers pitching large Don Newcombe, who overcame his ain intoxicant problems, with helping him. Newcombe died successful 2109.

“I’m lasting present with the antheral who saved my life,” Wills said of Newcombe. “He was a transmission for God’s emotion for maine due to the fact that helium chased maine each implicit Los Angeles trying to assistance maine and I conscionable couldn’t recognize that. But helium persevered, helium wouldn’t springiness successful and my beingness is fantastic contiguous due to the fact that of Don Newcombe.”

Born Maurice Morning Wills successful Washington, D.C., connected Oct. 2, 1932, helium was a three-sport standout astatine Cardozo Senior High. He earned All-City honors arsenic a backmost successful football, successful hoops and arsenic a pitcher successful shot erstwhile helium was nicknamed Sonny.

In 1948, helium played connected the school’s undefeated shot team, which ne'er gave up immoderate points. On the mound, Wills threw a one-hitter and struck retired 17 successful a crippled successful 1950. The school’s shot tract is named successful his honor.

Wills has his ain depository successful Fargo, North Dakota, wherever helium was a manager and teacher for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks from 1996-97.

He is survived by woman Carla, and children Barry, Micki, Bump, Anita, Susan Quam and Wendi Jo Wills. Bump was a erstwhile large league 2nd baseman who played for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.


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