On this day 51 years ago, Maury Wills won the first National League MVP in Los Angeles Dodgers history beating out teammate Willie Davis and San Francisco Giants outfielder Willie Mays.
The shortstop was in his fourth season with the Dodgers and led the league in games played (165), at-bats (695), triples (10) and stolen bases (104). He hit .299 and hit six home runs with 48 RBI, while scoring 130 runs. Wills also added 204 hits, was named an All-Star and won his second consecutive Gold Glove.
Wills became the fifth player in Dodger history to win the award and it was the seventh overall award. He joined Dolph Camilli, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe in that group. Overall, Wills spent 12 seasons with the Dodgers and played in 1,593 games. He ranks in the Dodgers’ top 10 for at-bats, runs scored and hits. He is also the Dodgers’ all-time leader in stolen bases with 490.
In his 12 seasons, Wills was a five-time All-Star, a three-time World Series winner, two-time Gold Glove winner and the 1962 All-Star Game MVP. The 104 stolen bases in 1962 were his career-high and he led the league in that category six times. He was a career .281 hitter with the Dodgers, accumulating 1,732 hits and 876 runs scored. His best postseason came in 1965 when he hit .367 with three stolen bases in the Dodgers’ World Series win over the Minnesota Twins.
After his 14 seasons in the major leagues, Wills became an analyst for NBC Sports and spent time managing in the Mexican Winter Leagues. In 1980, he was hired as interim manager of the Seattle Mariners. He lasted the rest of the 1980 season and just 24 games into the 1981 season before being fired. Since then, he has spent time as a trainer for a few teams in the major leagues. He’s even been seen with the Dodgers during Spring Training from time to time.