Gonna take a sentimental journey…and look back at Maury Wills and his 104 SB season.
When the season was over, and the Dodgers had lost a three-game playoff with San Francisco for the pennant that had extended the season to 165 games, Wills had stolen 104 bases and baseball had been changed. Small ball had become a viable way to win, and the Dodgers won the World Series three times from 1959 through ‘65.
Wills had six home runs and 48 runs batted in while batting .299 in ‘62, but it was enough to make him the league’s most valuable player. Second place that year was Willie Mays.
In stealing those 104 bases, Wills was caught only 13 times, but Wills says it was really only eight,. He says the other five were failed hit-and-runs when Jim Gilliam, hitting behind him, couldn’t get a bat on the ball.
...The stolen-base record eventually fell to Lou Brock, who stole 118 in 1974. But Wills has one record that probably will never be topped — he played in all 165 games in that extended 1962 season. “I’m pretty sure I played every inning,” he says.
...The one missing item in his resume is a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame, but he is still under consideration for induction by MLB’s Veterans’ Committee.
The Times’ late columnist Jim Murray may have had the best summary of that.
“What am I doing in the Hall of Fame if Maury Wills can’t get in one?” Murray said.