Maury Wills, a record-setting base stealer with Los Angeles Dodgers, Spokane Indians Rim of Honor recipient and Seattle Mariners manager, died at the age of 89, the Dodgers announced on Tuesday.
Wills stole 104 bases in 1962, breaking the modern-game record set by Ty Cobb in 1915, and won the National League MVP that season. He stole more bases than any other team did that year and was only caught 13 times.
He led the N.L. in steals six consecutive seasons from 1960-1965.
When he retired after the 1972 season, Wills’ 586 career stolen bases were No. 10 on the all-time list and remain 20th in MLB history.
He played 14 seasons in the major leagues, 12 with the Dodgers, winning three World Series titles, two Gold Gloves and making seven All-Star appearances.
Wills played parts of nine seasons in the minor leagues, the last two with the Spokane Indians in 1958-59, then the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.
Wills, 25 at the time, scored the first run in Indians ballpark history in 1958 and hit .253 with 25 stolen bases over 144 games. In ’59, Wills hit .313 with 25 steals in 48 games before his promotion to the Dodgers.
Wills was added as permanent member of the Rim of Honor at Avista Stadium by the Spokane Indians in 2007. He is one of just four to receive the honor, joining manager Tommy Lasorda and outfielders Levi McCormack and Dwight Aden.
After his playing career ended, Wills spent four years in broadcasting and managing in a winter league in Mexico. That led to managing the Seattle Mariners for parts of two seasons in 1980 and ’81.
The M’s got off to a 6-18 start in 1981 and Wills was fired. He never managed again and finished with a career record of 26-56, a .317 winning percentage.
Throughout his playing career, Wills was also a musician and performed extensively as a vocalist and instrumentalist on banjo, guitar and ukulele. He made appearances on television and in night clubs and he performed at least once on campus at Washington State in Pullman just days after winning the World Series in 1965.
Born Oct. 2, 1932, in Washington, D.C., Maurice Morning Wills grew up with four brothers and eight sisters. He began playing organized baseball at age 14 in a local semipro league and starred in baseball, basketball and football at Cardozo High School in Washington, earning all-city honors in each sport as a sophomore, junior and senior.
After graduating, Wills signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950 for a $500 signing bonus, according to his autobiography.
Wills died Monday night at his home in Sedona, Arizona, according to the Dodgers, who were informed by family members. He is survived by his wife Carla and six children, including former major league infielder Bump Wills, who graduated from Central Valley High where he was a three-sport star and later played six season in the major leagues.
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