The Dodgers organization this week was mourning the loss of legendary shortstop Maury Wills, a base-stealing master who played on three World Series championship teams.
Wills died Monday night at his home in Sedona, Arizona, according to the team. He was 89. There was no immediate word on the cause of death.
Wills, who retired in 1972, still holds the Dodgers record of 490 stolen bases. By the time he retired–following stints with Pittsburgh and Montreal and again with the Dodgers—he amassed 586 stolen bases. He stole a then-record 104 bases in the 1962 season, when he won National League and All-Star Game MVP honors. He led the National League in steals every year from 1960-65—his first six years in the majors.
Wills played more than 1,900 games in his career, and finished with a batting average of .281.
In a 2004 interview with MLB.com, Wills said he idolized Jackie Robinson as a kid and dreamed of playing with the Dodgers.
He wound up winning the World Series with the team in 1959, 1963 and 1965.
Long after his retirement, Dodgers manager Jim Tracy brought Wills back to the organization as an instructor in 2001. Current manager Dave Roberts said Wills’ tips on stealing bases contributed to his famed steal in the 2004 American League Championship Series that helped the Boston Red Sox reach the World Series.
“He said, `DR, one of these days you’re going to have to steal an important base when everyone in the ballpark knows you’re gonna steal, but you’ve got to steal that base and you can’t be afraid to steal that base,”’ Roberts said, according to the team. “So, just kind of trotting out onto the field that night, I was thinking about him. So he was on one side telling me,
‘This is your opportunity.’ And the other side of my brain is saying, ‘You’re going to get thrown out; don’t get thrown out.’ Fortunately, Maury’s voice won out in my head.”