Saturday, October 7, 2017

Maury Wills: The Artful Dodger

Topps baseball cards 1960s
Maury Wills is often talked about for not being in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The 1962 MVP, seven-time All-Star,  three-time World Series participant, 2-time Gold Glove winner, and base stealing extraordinaire has oddly not made it to the Hall yet.  His lack of baseball cards in the first eight years of his major league career may not be helping.

RetroCards can't do much about Maury Wills Hall of Fame induction but we can right some wrongs in his baseball card history.

Wills was originally not considered major league talent.  But fate would intervene and match him with hitting coach Bobby Bragen who turned him into a successful pinch hitter.  A couple of Dodger injuries later and Wills was in the starting line up in 1959!  His biggest season was his fourth when he set a Major league record for stealing 104 bases - the first ever to record 100 steals in a season.  He won the MVP that year and had many successes in his first eight seasons.  But where were his baseball cards?

He did sign an exclusive contract with Fleer and appears in the 1963 Fleer set but he would not appear on a Topps card until 1967, by which time he had been traded to the Pirates.  Unfortunately there were no early Dodger cards of one of the team's most popular players.  Until now.

As a pioneer in the art of base stealing, Maury Wills finally is honored properly with a 10-card set spanning the years 1959-1966, plus a career ending card for 1973.  RetroCards paints with a broad brush giving him two 1959 cards - one in a regular design and one rookie design – cards from 1960-1966, and a final career ending card in 1973.  Coming soon!

For the complete article on why Maury Wills had so few baseball cards, check out Brian Cronin's thorough article here.


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