Sunday, May 26, 2013

Maury Wills (#595)

Here is Maury Wills' first Topps card as a Dodger. Although Wills made his major-league debut on June 6, 1959 and was the Dodgers' regular shortstop from 7/4/1959 to 12/1/1966, Topps did not issue a card for him until the 1967 set, and by then he was the Pirates' 3rd baseman.

Maury was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers before the 1951 season. says that he played for the Hornell, NY Dodgers in 1951, as well as in 1952. As such, he was in the Dodgers' system several years before future Pirates' teammate Roberto Clemente.

What I didn't know until today is that Wills spent the 1957 season as a member of the Cincinnati Reds organization (playing for Seattle in the PCL), and was traded to the Tigers and back to the Dodgers during the 1958-59 off-season.

Wills took over the Dodgers' shortstop job from Don Zimmer midway through the 1959 season, and went on the lead the NL in stolen bases every season from 1960-65, including 104 in 1962 and 94 in 1965. He also led the league in triples in 1962, and was named the NL MVP that season.

After the 1966 season he was traded to the Pirates for shortstop Gene Michael and 3rd baseman Bob Bailey. After two seasons in Pittsburgh, he was drafted by the Montreal Expos. Wills was the expansion team's regular shortstop for the first two months, then was traded back to the Dodgers (with outfielder Manny Mota) for outfielder Ron Fairly and infielder Paul Popovich.

He reclaimed the starting shortstop job, which in the 2 1/2 seasons he was away, was manned by such luminaries as Gene Michael, Dick Schofield, Nate Oliver, Tommy Dean, Zoilo Versalles, Ted Sizemore, and Billy Grabarkiewitz. Maury remained the starter until he was replaced by Bill Russell in late-April 1972.

Wills was released after the 1972 season, ending his 14-year career. He later managed the Seattle Mariners for parts of 1980 and 1981.