Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Waiting for Maury

As a young collector in the early 60s it would have been nice to have had access to the internet, had there been an internet. It would have saved my friends and I a helluva lot of time trying to figure out why we never could find a Topps card of Maury Wills.

There was a Post cereal card of him. And he appeared (unofficially) on a card in the World Series subset in the 1960 Topps set. But other than that he was a ghost. Of course most everyone now knows the story of how he was snubbed by Topps until around 1958 when he was finally offered the standard $5 contract to appear in Topps products.

By then he was signed to appear only on Fleer products and what is considered his 'rookie' card is part of the wonderful 1963 Fleer set. There are several blog posts around that go into much more detail on the 'missing Maurys' but I'll direct you to the late Bob Lemke's entry. There he details the story and shows off a couple of his customs. I was happy to have added his '59 to my binder holding that set.

Enough about Wills cards we never got...I'm here to show off one I do have thanks for fellow blogger and Twitter friend Shane Katz. This super sharp example came along with a Bob Bolin card yesterday and brought me a couple of steps closer to finishing my 1970 set.

Look at the back of that card. That's a huge wall of stats and it chronicles Wills' long slow climb through the Dodgers' organization, an exceptional career in the majors to that point and his return to the Dodgers in 1969.

Interestingly the stat that put food on the Wills' family table isn't included... stolen bases. He led the NL each season from 1960 thru 1965 and then closed out the decade finishing 3rd, 2nd, 2nd and 4th. I don't think it's a stretch to say that he and Luis Aparicio changed the game in the 60s.

I'd forgotten that Wills was an expansion draft pick by the Expos prior to 1969. He was gone from the club in mid-June, traded back to Los Angeles, so I missed out on seeing him play in Parc jarry when I was there that August. I did see him play for both the Dodgers and Pirates. He also managed 83 games in Seattle over the the course of the '80 and '81 seasons. He had less than stellar results and his style never messed with the modern player.

Thanks again Shane...and look for the Bolin to appear in another post very soon.


  1. Learned two things from this post...

    1. The whole Wills/Topps snub.
    2. Wills played for the Expos.

    I'm sure I'd be in the minority, but I'd love to see Topps include Wills in their annual Archives Fan Favorites autograph set... as a member of the Montreal Expos.

  2. Something I didn't know until composing my own Maury Wills post a few years ago: In the 1958/59 off-season while still in the minor leagues, Wills was dealt to, and re-acquired from, the Tigers.

    1. I read that only when checking background for this one. You really have to give Wills credit for perseverance. He had a lot of stuff thrown in his way before he became a big leaguer.

  3. Absolutely not a stretch to credit Wills with changing the game. At least in the NL, he made the stolen base a viable offensive weapon. Great get. I still don't have mine yet.

    1. Thanks...for some reason I really dig this card.