The Dodgers announced today that three-time World Series champion Maury Wills has passed away. He was 89 years old.
Wills had an incredibly impressive career, spanning 14 different big league seasons. He debuted as a shortstop with the Dodgers in 1959 at the age of 26. He played in 83 games that season and then six more in the World Series, with the Dodgers hoisting the trophy after defeating the White Sox. In 1960, Wills’ got to play a full season for the first time, stealing 50 bases. That was the first of what would eventually wind up as a six-year run as the top basestealer in the National League, with at least 35 in each year of that period and a whopping 104 in 1962. That 104 mark was the modern era single-season MLB record at the time, which stood until Lou Brock swiped 118 in 1974. It wasn’t just the running game that was impressive that year. Wills also batted .299, hit 13 doubles, 10 triples, six long balls and scored 130 runs. He was voted the National League Most Valuable Player that year, just ahead of Willie Mays.
Wills was with the Dodgers through the 1966 season, winning two more titles in 1963 and 1965. He also grabbed Gold Glove awards in 1961 and 1962 and played in seven All-Star games over five seasons, as there were two games in each of 1961 and 1962. He then went on to play two season for the Pirates, before being selected in the expansion draft for the newly-formed Montreal Expos. He was traded back to the Dodgers in June of 1969 and stuck with them through the end of the 1972 season.
After his playing days were over, Wills spent some time as a broadcaster before trying his hand as a manager. He was hired to manage the Mariners partway through the 1980 season, though his time as skipper was not very successful and ultimately brief. The M’s went 20-38 over the remainder of the 1980 campaign and then started 6-18 in 1981. He was fired at that point and wasn’t given another shot in the dugout, leaving him with a managerial record of 26-56.
Ultimately, Wills will surely be remembered for his incredible base stealing prowess. Across 1,942 career games, he stole 586 bases, a mark that puts him 20th on the all-time list of basestealers. He also scored 1,067 runs and notched 2,134 hits, including 177 doubles, 71 triples and 20 home runs. He earned three World Series rings, seven All-Star appearances, two Gold Glove awards and an MVP award. MLBTR sends our condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.