The Los Angeles Dodgers confirmed Monday night that Maury Wills, a legend of the team and one of baseball’s greatest base stealers, had passed away at his home in Arizona. He was 89. The remainder of the season, the Dodgers will memorialize Mills with a patch on their uniforms.
Stan Kasten, president and chief executive officer of the Dodgers, declared that Maury Wills was one of the most thrilling Dodgers of all time. “With his baserunning, he revolutionized baseball and elevated the value of the stolen base. He played a significant role in the Dodgers’ three world championship victories.”
During his 14-year career, which spanned 1959–1972, Wills, a seven-time All-Star and the 1962 National League MVP, helped bring the stolen base back into popularity. He stole 104 bases in 1962, at the time the most by an AL or NL player in the 20th century, and finished his career with 586 steals. Wills is 20th on the career stolen base leaderboard.
Before making his major league debut with the Dodgers in 1959 at the age of 26, Wills, a Washington, D.C. native, played eight seasons in the minor leagues. The following year, the quick shortstop became the first NL player to steal 50 bases in a season since Hall of Famer Max Carey in 1923. He also assisted Los Angeles in winning the World Series that year.
Wills hit.286/.335/.337 and averaged 54 stolen bases each year between 1960 and 1969, when he was at his best. In addition to another NL pennant in 1966, he guided the Dodgers to victories in 1959, 1963, and 1965. Wills’ 104 stolen bases helped him hit.299/.347/.373 during his MVP season. Wills led his league in steals every year from 1960 to 1965 and finished his career with 2,134 hits.
Following a playing career that included stints with the Pirates (1967-68) and Expos (1969), as well as a return to the Dodgers (1969-72), Wills spent some time broadcasting and as a baserunning instructor with multiple teams, and also had an ill-fated stint as Mariners manager from 1980-81. He worked as a representative of the Dodgers Legends Bureau in recent years.
From 1978 to 1992, Wills was nominated for inclusion into the Baseball Writers Association of America’s Hall of Fame every year, but he never got more than 40.6 percent of the vote, far shy of the 75 percent threshold. Wills also made the ballots for the Golden Eras Committee in 2014 and 2022, but once more he did not garner enough votes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Wills leaves behind his wife Carla and their six kids.