Maury Wills, the speedy Los Angeles Dodgers infielder who revolutionized the art of base-stealing in the 1960s, has died at the age of 89, the team announced Tuesday.
Wills broke Ty Cobb’s record, which had stood for 47 years, when he swiped 104 bases on his way to winning National League MVP honors in 1962.
In all, Wills played 14 seasons in the major leagues, 12 of them with the Dodgers, winning three World Series titles, two Gold Gloves and making seven All-Star appearances.
But his baserunning skills were his claim to fame. He led the NL in stolen bases for six consecutive seasons from 1960-1965 and finished his career with 586.
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“Maury Wills was one of the most exciting Dodgers of all-time,” Dodger President and CEO Stan Kasten said in a news release. “He changed baseball with his base-running and made the stolen base an important part of the game. He was very instrumental in the success of the Dodgers with three world championships.”
Wills holds the distinction of being the first MLB player to bat on artificial turf, when he hit a leadoff single for the Dodgers against the Houston Astros on April 18, 1966, in the first game played at the Houston Astrodome.
He also spent two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates and part of another with the Montreal Expos before returning to the Dodgers from 1969-1972 to close out his playing career.
He finished with a career batting average of .281 with 2,134 hits in 1,942 games.
Wills also served as manager of the Seattle Mariners for parts of the 1980 and 1981 seasons, compiling a record of 26-56.
Wills died Monday night at home in Sedona, Arizona, the team said after being informed by family members. No cause of death was given. He is survived by his wife Carla and six children, including former major league infielder Bump Wills.