Dodgers icon Maury Wills, 1st to steal 100 bases in modern era, dies at 89
Los Angeles Dodgers icon Maury Wills, the first player in modern major-league history to steal 100 bases in a season, died Monday at age 89.
Wills electrified baseball when he stole a then-unheard of 104 bases in 1962, breaking Ty Cobb's modern-era record that had stood for nearly a half-century. The feat earned Wills 1962 National League MVP honors in a very close vote over Willie Mays. Though his record's since been surpassed several times, Wills remains one of just four players to record a 100-steal season since the modern stolen-base rules were established.
A native of Washington, D.C., Wills toiled in the minors for a decade before finally getting his shot with the Dodgers in 1959. He made his mark as a defensive wizard and elite base-stealer, winning two Gold Gloves while leading the NL in steals for six consecutive seasons.
Wills, who also spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Montreal Expos, made seven All-Star appearances during his 12 seasons with the Dodgers. He was the starting shortstop on four Dodgers pennant winners between 1959 and '66 and helped them to three World Series titles.
Following his playing career, Wills had a brief, ill-fated stint managing the Seattle Mariners. He then spent several decades as a Dodgers spring-training instructor, tutoring many of the team's players in the art of base-stealing, including current Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
"Maury was very impactful to me, personally, professionally. He's going to be missed," Roberts - who wears No. 30 in Wills' honor - said Tuesday, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue LA. "He was a friend, a father, a mentor, all of the above for me. This one is a tough one."
Earlier this year, the team honored Wills as the fourth inductee in its "Legends of Dodger Baseball" program.
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