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MLB

Who was Los Angeles Dodgers legend Maury Wills who died at 89?

We take a look at the man who redefined the art of base stealing and would get his hands on three World Series titles before his career was over.

Update:
Los Angeles Dodgers legend and base stealing master Maury Wills has passed away at the age of 89.

MLB says goodbye to the legendary base stealer, as we take a moment to reflect on just who Maury Wills of the Los Angeles Dodgers was and why he will always be remembered.

Dodgers legend Maury Wills has passed away

According to a team announcement, Maury Wills, an iconic player for the Los Angeles Dodgers and widely considered to be one of the greatest base stealers of all time, died Monday night at his home in Arizona. Wills was 89-years-old. Accordingly, the Dodgers will wear a patch on their jerseys in honor of Mills for the remainder of their season.

“Maury Wills was one of the most exciting Dodgers of all-time,” Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said. “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.”

Who was Maury Wills the baseball player?

Raised in Washington, D.C., Wills spent eight seasons in the minor leagues before his debut with the Dodgers in 1959 at the age of 26. From there, the speedy shortstop would help the Dodgers to win the World Series in that very same season. If that wasn’t enough, Wills would go on to be the first NL player to steal 50 bases in a single season the very next year, something which hadn’t been done since Hall of Fame inductee Max Carey completed the feat in 1923.

Indeed, a seven-time All-Star and the 1962 National League MVP, Wills single-handedly brought the spotlight back to the base stealing during a 14-year run from 1959 to 1972. To this day, his stand out 104 stolen bases in 1962 - at the time the most in both NL and AL for the 20th century - remains exemplary. In total, Wills stole 586 bases and today sits at No. 20 on the list. Where his numbers are concerned, Wills hit .286/.335/.337 and averaged 54 stolen bases per year from 1960-69. Fans will of course know, that he was part of the Dodgers team that won championships in 1959, 1963, and 1965, as well as another NL pennant in 1966. Where his MVP season is concerned, Wills hit .299/.347/.373 to go with his aforementioned 104 stolen bases. At the time of his retirement, Wills had posted 2,134 career hits and led his league in steals every year from 1960-65.

What did Maury Wills do after baseball?

Before the end of his playing career, Wills would play for the Pirates (1967-68) and Expos (1969), before returning to his beloved Dodgers (1969-72). Interestingly, his time after the game came to an end was somewhat less grandiose. Between work in broadcasting, the former Dodgers icon also spent time as a baserunning instructor for various teams, as well as a much-maligned period as the manager of the Mariners during their 1980-81 campaign. Most recently, Wills worked as a representative of the Dodgers Legends Bureau.

What’s curious to note, is that despite his legendary status, Wills appeared on the Baseball Writers Association of America’s Hall of Fame ballot every year from 1978-92, however, he never received more than 40.6% of the vote, which of course falls clearly below the required 75% for induction. In 2014 and 2022, Wills appeared on the Golden Eras Committee ballot, but once again did not garner enough votes to enter baseball’s Hall of Fame. The Dodgers legend is survived by his wife, Carla, and six children.

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