THERES A WILLS
THERES A WAY
Profile on BADs 2002 Ernie Banks Positive Image Lifetime
Achievement Award Winner
23rd, 1962 - a 29 year-old shortstop, who had spent nearly
10 years in the minor leagues before breaking into the Majors,
shattered Ty Cobbs record of 96 stolen bases in a
season. The record had stood for 47 years and it seemed
inconceivable that someone could break it, much less that
the century mark could be broken. But thats exactly
what Maurice Maurice Mourning Wills did by finishing the
season with 104 stolen bases for the Dodgers helping to
propel them to a World Championship the following year.
the Dodger faithful chanting "Go Maury Go go
Maury Wills would change the face of baseball, leading the
National League in stolen bases for six straight seasons
from 1960-1965, finishing with a lifetime total of 585.
His presence was a major force on the L.A. Dodger team for
14 years and the perfect offensive compliment to L.A.s
superior pitching, leading to three successful World Series
Championships in 1959 (his very first year with the club),
1962, and again in 1965 when he batted .367 in the Series
and swiped 3 bases. The Dodgers also claimed the National
League Pennant in 1966 with Wills again an All-Star shortstop.
1962 season was an extraordinary showcase of athleticism.
While swiping his record 104 bases, Wills was caught stealing
only 13 times while Cobb had been caught 38 times in 1915.
Cobb set his record in 156 games. Wills broke it by one
in the same span. Wills led the NL with 10 triples and reached
career highs with 130 runs, 48 RBI, 6 homeruns, and 208
hits. Although it took him 1,167 at bats before hitting
his first homerun the year before, he became only the 7th
player in history at the time to sock one from each side
of the plate in one game. His 695 at-bats that season missed
the Major League record by one. He won the first of two
Gold Gloves. He was elected All-Star MVP and he beat out
Willie Mays by seven points to win the NL MVP award.
many athletic achievements of Maury Wills are
evident by the many awards he has received throughout
National League MVP and Player of the Year and All-Star
MVP in 1962
Shortstop of the Year 1970 & 71 at 37
and 38 years of age.
Gold Glove Award in 1961 & 62
Sport Magazines "Man of the Year"
Associated Press "Athlete of the Year"
Hickok Pro-Athlete of the Year Award
as late as 2001, Wills was honored as "A Treasure of
Los Angeles" with Mayor Richard Riordan presenting
him his award before a standing ovation.
between the time that Maury had retired from the playing
field and the standing ovation last year, Maury Wills learned
how long the fall from the top could be. He realized his
dream of becoming a Major League manger when he became skipper
of the Seattle Mariners in 1980 & 81. After losing his
job as Manager this gifted athlete, who didnt even
believe in smoking in front of his young fans, surrendered
to a cocaine addiction that cost him his career, his fortune,
and almost cost him his life. The road to the top had been
a tough one for Maury, climbing from the anonymity of poverty
and battling racism, as he struggled to prove just what
an extraordinary athlete he was. But the leap to the bottom
was even harder for this man. The lesson Wills provides
us with by fighting his way back to the top again is the
reason Baseballers Against Drugs honors him on January 31.
Wills is still involved in the world of baseball and very
involved with young people. He returned to the Dodger organization
this year as bunting and base-running coordinator for the
team. He is Vice President of Special Projects for the Fort
Worth Cats, an independent Texas baseball franchise. Under
Governor Ronald Reagan, Wills was Chairman of Athletics
for Youth in the State of California. He has also worked
as Assistant to Pittsburghs Mayor Barr and the District
Attorney of Clark County, Nevada for Youth Programs and
Relations. He is involved in the Red Ribbon Program, a national
organization whose slogan is "Hugs not Drugs."
He is Youth Drug Program Role Model for the Redondo Beach
Crime Watch. And his most satisfying role has been with
the children he works with through Todays Fresh Start
which offers free tutoring in math and reading to public
school children who are failing.
memory of Maury Wills the ballplayer achieving his 104th
stolen base for the Dodgers is one of nostalgic romance
for those of us who truly love the game. However, the accomplishments
and humanity of Maury Wills the man offer a valuable lesson
and enduring hope to all of us who truly value life.