Dear Maury

A letter to Maury Wills. For those who don’t know, Maury Wills played shortstop on the great Dodgers baseball teams that featured Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale in the 1960s. In 1962 Wills stole 104 bases, breaking Ty Cobb’s 1915 record for steals in a single season.

Dear Maury,

I was following reports about the Dodgers-Yankees old-timers game played today in Los Angeles and thinking about my 10-year-old self, hiding my transistor radio under my pillow so that I could listen to Vin Scully narrate Dodgers games long after my mother thought I had gone to sleep. Suddenly it occurred to me that it must have been because of you that, for as long as I can remember, I have always been on the side of African-Americans in their struggle for equality and justice.

I grew up in a largely white suburban community in Southern California—a very conservative place, where the John Birch Society had many fans. It would have been easy for me to adopt the attitudes that surrounded me. Somehow I did not, and although these things are far too complicated to work out in any definite way, I do know this: if anyone had suggested to me that Maury Wills, one of my great heroes, should sit in the back of the bus or be refused entrance to certain hotels or restaurants, I would have been astonished and outraged.

And it must have been so for many, many others like me.

So, I just wanted to write and say thanks for your amazing performances on those great Dodgers teams of the 60s, and thanks for being one of my childhood heroes and helping me to turn into a better person than I might otherwise have been.

And just for the record, I don’t care who stole more bases than you did, later on. To me you will always be the greatest base-stealer of all time, and one of the most exciting baseball players in history.

Best wishes,

Eric

5 comments to Dear Maury

  • I grew up in Los Angeles during the 1950′s 1960′s and I admired the same Dodger teams you did. I went to my first baseball game when the Dodgers were playing at L. A. Coliseum baseball field (it was so unlike any professional baseball park and was almost like a “little league’ Field. You might remember and enjoy this:

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/28481325/Sites/D-O-D-G-E-R-S.mp3

    You may have to copy and paste this into your browser.

    I feel like you that Mr. Wills will always be the best base stealer. I also remember when Don Drysdale hit the home run that won the game he was pitching. Don’t see too many pitchers anymore (probably rarely did) who can pitch and hit. In the American League you do not have to.

    Cordially,
    J. D.

  • Eric

    Hahaha! That song is a hoot—and no, I never heard it before. Is it Danny Kaye singing? So corny.

    As for pitchers hitting, Greinke, Kershaw, and Ryu are all pretty good with the bat but, yes, I used to love Drysdale’s hits almost as much as his brush-back pitches ;^).

  • It is Danny Kaye. He was, I am told, quite a Dodger fan. The song was popular in 1962 or 1963. The season ended with the Dodgers and the Giants playing an extra game—they were tied at the end of the season, to see who would go on to the World Series. The Dodgers, alas, lost. The song was a number 1 hit in Los Angeles in the weeks leading up to the World Series and then, when the Giants beat the Dodgers, the song disappeared.

    Cordially,
    J. D.

  • Mike Radow

    Wills couldn’t hit a lick and did what all of us have to do to succeed, find a niche, or create a niche, a market if you will. I was a Yankee fan back then, I am sorry to say, so I wasn’t too happy when Wills got picked off in the world series, took off for second, and of course, beat the throw. The real master of course, was Jackie Robinson, who flummoxed opposing pitchers simply by the color of his skin. I was raised with the phrase “faster than you can say Jack Robinson”. I saw him in a parade in 1972, and I was in awe, but he was already close to death, exhausted and proud…

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