24 June 2014

maurice morning wills, dodger double dipper

as of june 24, 1962, dodger shortstop maury wills had 39 stolen bases on the season.  he went on to steal a then record 104 bags and win the mvp award in the process.  today, june 24, 2014, dee gordon has 39 stolen bases to his credit so far this season.  will dee steal 104 bases?  will he win the mvp award?  will he eventually leave the dodgers, only to return a few seasons later as wills did?  only time will tell.  in the meantime, here's a dodger double dipper post.

[this is the seventythird installment in the double dippers posts.  here are the previous posts - brett butler, omar daaleric young, nick willhitechris gwynn, mickey hatcherdave anderson, don zimmerrafael landestoy, dave hansen, jose vizcaino, hideo nomo, greg maddux, mike madduxjon garland, chan ho parkvicente romogene mauch, denny lewallyn, von joshua, joe moellerdioner navarro, rudy seanez, bart shirleyrandy wolf, ismael valdes, bobby castillo, mike devereaux, pete richert, jay johnstone, jesse orosco, lee lacy, giovanni carrara, jeff weaverted sizemore,  orel hershisertom goodwinjoe fergusoneddie murraymatt lukeken mcmullen, tim wallach, jerry grotedon suttonralph branca, todd hundley, elmer dessensguillermo motajoe beckwithjamie hoffmannbabe hermanjoe medwickjuan castroron perranoskiclyde kingpaul wanerhughie jenningsron negray, broadway aleck smithgeorge smith, johnny cooney, jim faireyfrenchy bordagaraydoc casey, waite hoytluis olmoclyde sukeforthwillie keeler,  harry howellgermany smithjohnny allenmarv rackley, and bobo newsom.]

maury wills debuted for the dodgers in 1959.  his first card is arguably the 1960 topps 1959 world series game 5 recap card 'luis swipes base', a card i addressed here.  he would have a few cards manufactured by other companies before appearing on a topps card again.  here's one of them - a 1962 post card
and another - a 1963 jello card
both cards note wills' prowess as a base stealer - he led the league in that category each season from 1960 through 1965.  the jello card references the old stolen base record set by ty cobb of 96 steals in 154 games.  actually, cobb played in 156 games during his record setting 1915 season, and although wills stole his 104 bags over a record 165 games, he made sure to steal two bags in game 156 to bring his running total to 97.  this was the year after roger maris broke babe ruth's single season home run record, and i would imagine that baseball purists and ty cobb fans would have demanded an asterisk had wills fallen short of 96 steals after 156 games.  i guess it's worth noting that wills had 100 steals after 162 games, but twelve and twenty years later, it wouldn't matter as lou brock had 118 steals in 1974 when the cardinals played only 161 games, and rickey henderson set his record 130 steals in 1982 when the a's also played 161 (henderson only appeared in 149 games that year!).

as for wills, he remained the dodgers' shortstop through the 1966 postseason, after which he was traded to the pirates to be their third baseman in 1967.  it was that year that he finally signed with topps and received a regular 1967 topps base card of his own, although it's a more scarce high number.  i showed my beat up copy in this post, along with a bunch of his cards that should have been that i created.

here's a 1969 topps deckle edge card of wills in a pirates uniform
although the 'p' on the hat has been removed because wills became a member of the expansion montreal expos following his two seasons in pittsburgh.  he has the distinction of being the expos' first shortstop and the first expo ever to bat.  really, the first expo ever to appear in a game, as montreal opened their inaugural season in new york against tom seaver and the mets.  he was also the first expo to strike out, the second one to double, the third one to score a run, the first to record a put out, the first to record an assist, and, fittingly, the first to steal a base.  wills only stole 15 bases for the expos in 1969, mostly because he was traded back to the dodgers in early june.

wills reclaimed his shortstop position upon his return to the dodgers, moving eventual rookie of the year ted sizemore to second base.  he eventually gave way to bill russell, and his career came to an end with the close of the 1972 season.  here's wills' 1972 o-pee-chee card
to document his second go-around with the dodgers at the major league level.  i state it like that because wills had actually left and returned to the dodger organization a couple of times before.  after signing with the club in 1951, he was claimed by the reds in the 1956 minor league draft and spent 1957 with their minor league affiliate in seattle.  wills was returned to the dodgers after the 1957 season, but then was sent to the tigers a year later.  they returned him to los angeles just before the 1959 season began, and the rest is dodger history.  to clarify, wills is still only a double dipper because i only consider those players who played as a dodger at the major league level before leaving the franchise and then eventually returned and played as a dodger in the big leagues again. sorry ted lilly, shane victorino, scott proctor, etc.

i included that link up above to the post featuring the 1959-1967 wills cards that i had created.  i should give credit to topps for creating the 1962 wills card that should have been.  they first used it in their 1975 sets as part of the mvp subset, the mini version of which i showed in this post.  it showed up again in the 1982 kmart set
and again in 1987 topps as part of the 'turn back the clock' subset.  the kmart set was released a year after there were some other maury wills cards issued by fleer and topps, except those showed him in a seattle mariners uniform. he managed the m's in the latter part of the 1980 season and also for a month or so to begin the 1981 campaign, becoming just the third african-american to manage in the major leagues.  since then, wills has been a coach or baserunning instructor for about half of the major league teams, although i am glad that the last few years seem to have been spent primarily with the dodgers and the likes of dee gordon.  let's see what dee can do this year!

here's to you maury, a dodger double dipper and maybe, just maybe, a hall of famer, too.

1 comment:

Mark Hoyle said...

Love the two Post cards