Wills was a baseball analyst for NBC-TV’s “Game of the Week” during the 1970s.
Taking over a weak team when he was named the Mariners’ manager, he was probably most remembered in Seattle for being suspended for two games after he was caught illegally ordering the team’s groundskeeper to extend the batter’s box by a foot toward the pitcher’s rubber before a game with the Oakland A’s on April 25, 1981. Billy Martin, the A’s manager, believed Wills was trying to give Mariner batters a better chance to connect against his starting pitcher, Rick Langford, before his deliveries broke.
Wills was fired on May 6. He had only a 26-56 record as the Mariners’ manager.
He acknowledged in his memoir, “On the Run: The Never Dull and Often Shocking Life of Maury Wills” (1992), written with Mike Celizic, that he struggled with cocaine addiction, but he became sober in the late 1980s. He was later a baserunning instructor for the Dodger organization and for other teams.
Wills had six children, all from his first marriage, to Gertrude (Elliott) Wills, whom he married in high school, according to his memoir. That marriage ended in divorce, as did his second marriage, to Angela George.
He is survived by his third wife, Carla; two sons, Barry and Bump; four daughters, Mauricia Wills, Anita Wills, Wendi Wills and Susan Wills-Quam; seven grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. A number of his siblings also survive him.
Wills’s son Bump was an infielder for the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
Though his Dodgers were usually winners, Wills didn’t need to look at the scoreboard to tell when he had fallen short. “I know when I have had a lousy day just by looking down at my uniform,” he told Sports Illustrated in 1965. “If it isn’t dirty, I haven’t scored two runs, I haven’t done my job.”
Alex Traub contributed reporting.
Source: NY Times