Updated: Sep 30, 2022
Former Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop and three-time World Series Champion passed away September 19 at the age of 89. Wills passed away Monday night in his home in Sedona, Arizona.
While in high school, Wills was a triple-threat. He played football, basketball and baseball, where he earned All-City honors in all three sports.
Wills had a 14-year career where he batted .281 with 2,134 hits and a total of 586 stolen bases in 1,942 games. Wills has played in three World Series title teams in 1959, 1963 and 1965 during his eight seasons with the Dodgers. Wills played for Pittsburgh and Montreal before making his return to the Dodgers from 1969 to 1972 when he then retired.
During his time as a player, Wills broke former Detroit Tigers centerfielder Ty Cobb’s single-season record in stolen bases with his 97th steal on September 23, 1962. In the 1962 season, Wills became the first player to steal more than 100 bases. Wills won the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1962 and the MVP award during the All-Star game in his hometown of Washington.
According to the Associated Press, Wills decided to stay with family rather than the team hotel. He arrived at the stadium carrying a Dodgers bag and wearing a Dodgers shirt, but the security guard would not let him in. Wills told the security guard to escort him to the NL clubhouse so the players could tell the guard they knew him, but the players decided to have a little fun and tell the guard they did not know who he was.
“So we walk down there and baseball players have a sick sense of humor, because when I stood in front of the door, with my Dodger shirt and duffel bag, and the man opened the door and said, ‘Anybody in here know this boy?’ and they all looked at me and said, ‘Never saw him before,’” Wills told The Washington Post.
When Wills won the MVP during the All-Star game, he walked past the guard and showed him the trophy, but the guard still did not believe him.
Wills continued to lead the NL in stolen bases from 1960 to 1965. He also was an All-Star selection and won the Gold Glove Award in 1961 and 1962.
After his success as a player, Wills took on the role of manager for the Seattle Mariners from 1980-1981. The Mariners went 26-56 with a .317 winning percentage with Wills as manager. Wills also managed the Mexican Pacific League in winter ball for a year, where he led the league to a championship. When Wills retired from the Dodgers in 1972, he went on to work as an analyst for NBC for five years.
Wills played a big part in Dodgers manager Dave Roberts 10-year career in Major League Baseball. Wills helped give Roberts a different outlook on his baseball career. Roberts currently wears Wills’ old Dodgers number 30.
Wills is survived by his wife Carla and his children Barry, Micki, Anita, Susan Quam, and Wendi Jo Wills.
All information courtesy of Associated Press.