Los Angeles Dodgers great Maury Wills, NL MVP in 1962, dies at age 89

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

Wills died Monday evening at house in Sedona, Arizona, the crew stated Tuesday after being knowledgeable by relations. No explanation for loss of life was given.

Wills performed on World Series title groups in 1959, 1963 and 1965 throughout his first eight seasons with the Dodgers. He additionally performed for Pittsburgh and Montreal earlier than returning to the Dodgers from 1969 to 1972, when he retired.

During 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 document for stolen bases along with his 97th swipe on Sept. 23, 1962. That season he grew to become 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 crucial thrilling Dodgers of all time,” crew president and CEO Stan Kasten stated. “He modified baseball along with his baserunning and made the stolen base an essential a part of the sport. 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 profitable share of .317.

He was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1962, the identical yr he was MVP of the All-Star Game performed in his hometown of Washington.

Wills stayed at house along with his household as an alternative of at the crew resort for the All-Star Game. He arrived at the ballpark carrying a Dodgers bag and carrying a Dodgers shirt. However, the safety guard would not let him in, saying he was too small to be a ballplayer.

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

“So we stroll down there and baseball gamers have a sick humorousness, as a result of after I stood in entrance of the door, with my Dodger shirt and duffel bag, and the person opened the door and stated, ‘Anybody in right here is aware of this boy ?’ and so they all appeared at me and stated, ‘Never noticed him earlier than,’ Wills informed The Washington Post in 2015.

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

“He nonetheless did not consider me, he thought perhaps I used to be carrying it for anyone,” Wills informed the Post.

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

He was credited with reviving the stolen base as a method. (*89*) pace made him a continuing risk on the basepaths and he distracted pitchers even when he did not 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 grew to become much more decided to steal.

Once, in a recreation 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 as an analyst at NBC for 5 years. He additionally managed winter ball in the Mexican Pacific League, profitable 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 in the quite a few gaffes he dedicated, together with calling for a reduction pitcher when no one was warming up in the bullpen and holding up a recreation for a number of minutes whereas searching for a pinch hitter.

Wills’ greatest 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 house plate umpire Bill Kunkel to analyze.

Kunkel questioned the pinnacle groundskeeper, who admitted Wills had ordered the change. Wills stated it was to assist his gamers keep in the field. However, Martin suspected it was to offer 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 document to finish the 1980 season, and he was fired on May 6, 1981, when the crew was mired in final place at 6-18. Years later, Wills admitted he in all probability ought to have gotten extra expertise as a minor league supervisor earlier than being employed in the massive leagues.

Wills struggled with addictions to alcohol and cocaine till getting sober in 1989. He credited Dodgers pitching great Don Newcombe, who overcame his personal alcohol issues, with serving to him. Newcombe died in 2019.

“I’m standing right here with the person who saved my life,” Wills stated of Newcombe. “He was a channel for God’s love for me as a result of he chased me throughout Los Angeles making an attempt to assist me and I simply could not perceive that. But he persevered, he would not give in and my life is fantastic at present due to Don Newcombe.”

Born Maurice Morning Wills in Washington, DC, on Oct. 2, 1932, he was a three-sport standout at Cardozo Senior High. He earned All-City 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 varsity’s undefeated soccer crew, which by no means gave up any factors. On the mound, Wills threw a one-hitter and struck out 17 in a recreation in 1950. The faculty’s baseball discipline is known as 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 is survived by his spouse, Carla, and youngsters 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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