Wills, base-stealing Dodger, dies at 89
Maury Wills, who intimidated pitchers with his base-stealing prowess as a shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers on three World Series championship teams, has died. He was 89.
Wills died Monday night at home in Sedona, Ariz., the team said Tuesday after being informed by family members. No cause of death was given.
He played on World Series title teams in 1959, 1963 and 1965 during his first eight seasons with the Dodgers. He also played for Pittsburgh and Montreal before returning to the Dodgers from 1969-72, when he retired.
During his 14-year career, Wills batted .281 with 2,134 hits and 586 stolen bases in 1,942 games.
Wills broke Ty Cobb's single-season record for stolen bases with his 97th on Sept. 23, 1962. That season he became the first player to steal more than 100 bases.
The Dodgers honored Wills with a moment of silence before the opener of their doubleheader against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday and showed his career highlights on the stadium video boards. The team will wear a patch in memory of Wills for the rest of this season.
Manager Dave Roberts, an outfielder during his 10-year MLB career, was moved to tears as he recalled Wills' impact on him.
"He was a friend, a father, a mentor -- all of the above for me, so this is a tough one for me," he said.
Wills had his own stint as a manager, guiding the Seattle Mariners from 1980-81, going 26-56 with a winning percentage of .317.
He was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1962, the same year he was MVP of the All-Star Game played in his hometown of Washington, D.C.
Wills led the NL in stolen bases from 1960-65, was a seven-time All-Star selection and won Gold Glove Awards in 1961 and 1962.
He was credited with reviving the stolen base as a strategy. His speed made him a constant threat on the base paths and he distracted pitchers even if he didn't try to steal. He carefully studied pitchers and their pickoff moves when he wasn't on base. When a pitcher's throw drove him back to the bag, he became even more determined to steal.