22 June 2009

maury wills final tribute - the card that should have been

in 1972, maury wills played the final games of his major league career. he was released by the dodgers after the season, and topps did not issue a wills card in 1973. this, of course, means that there was no final tribute - a card including his total career stats following his final season. to right that wrong, here is my take on a card that should have been: 1973 topps maury wills.

best known for his record breaking 104 stolen based in 1962, wills played in 72 games in 1972. his season was somewhat bipolar, in that he was the starting shortstop until mid july when he was supplanted by bill russell, and then for the final two months of the season he appeared exclusively as a pinch hitter/pinch runner/late inning defensive replacement at third base. i don't think topps would have added a third base designation to his card, though.

wills attempted only two stolen bases in his final season, with one success - a steal of second in the second inning of a 14-inning game against the mets on may 10. the mets battery was jon matlack and (future dodger) jerry grote. it was his 586th stolen base of his career, good for 4th all-time in the modern era at the time of his retirement, behind hall of famers ty cobb, eddie collins, and honus wagner. lou brock would pass wills in 1973 and then go on to break his single season record in 1974.

i have recently seen maury in the jackie robinson short that runs on the mlb network every once in a while. it's a great tribute to jackie and many of the other african-americans that followed, even if davey lopes gives thanks for ryan howard rather than jim gilliam.

here's to you maury wills, and thanks baseball reference!


Sully said...

I had the same thought when Topps didn't issue a final card for Reggie Jackson!

Anonymous said...

Where's the back? :)

Nice job. It's a shame when the companies don't pay tribute to a top player.

Carl Crawford Cards said...

Man that's cool! I didn't realize they had given him the shaft like that.

My father actually says Wills should be a HOFer and refuses to go until Wills is in. You Dodger fans are nothing if not hard core.