Born: October 2, 1932 Washington DC
MLB Debut: June 6, 1959 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Last MLB Appearances: October 4, 1972 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Batting Average: .281
Stolen Bases: 586
Hear this special audio segment highlighting Maury Wills’ career:
In his first-full season in 1960, Wills hit .295 and led the league with 50 stolen bases, being the first National League player to steal 50 since Max Carey stole 51 in 1923. Wills stole 104 bases in 1962 to break a new record in baseball, breaking the old mark of 96, set by Ty Cobb in 1915. Wills also outstole all of the other teams that year, the highest total being the Washington Senators’ 99. Besides this, he hit .299, led the league in triples (10), and was selected the National League Most Valuable Player, beating out Willie Mays by seven points.
Although, Luis Aparicio had been stealing 50+ bases in the American League for several years prior to Wills, Wills brought new prominence to the tactic. Perhaps this was due to greater media exposure in Los Angeles, or to the Dodgers’ greater success, or to their extreme reliance on a low-scoring strategy that emphasized pitching, defense, and Wills’ speed to compensate for their lack of productive hitters. Wills was a significant distraction to the pitcher even if he didn’t try to steal, because he was a constant threat to do so. The fans at Dodger Stadium would chant, “Go! Go! Go!” anytime he got on base. A winner of the Gold Glove Award in 1961 and 1962, Wills was selected five times for the All-Star Game.