Author Topic: Maury Wills has died: an all-time great from DC  (Read 56 times)

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Offline welch

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Maury Wills has died: an all-time great from DC
« Topic Start: September 23, 2022, 10:48:19 AM »

The great Maury Wills has died. Here is how Jerry Priddy, a Nats 2B from the 1940s, set Wills on the path to baseball

By Thom Loverro - The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2022

Maury Wills, who died this week at 89, came out of the District as maybe the greatest athlete from this city who impacted the game of baseball when he set the basepaths on fire as a record-setting Most Valuable Player for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He found that path in his life thanks to a former Washington Senators second baseman. It is that path that perhaps is the most interesting part of his life.

There’s a should-be Hall of Fame (another oversight by voters) career on Wills’ resume — including 104 stolen bases in his National League MVP season in 1962, three World Series titles (1959, 1963, 1965) with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seven All-Star Game appearances.

But then, one day, 11-year-old Maury Wills went to a baseball clinic sponsored by the Washington Senators, and it changed his life.

“We used to do those clinics for the Dodgers,” Wills told me in a conversation for my “Cigars & Curveballs” podcast. “The players really didn’t want to be there. The team would tell us, ‘You don’t have to stay long, just wing it if you have to and get out of there.”

Jerry Priddy, who played for the Senators in 1943 and again in 1946 and 1947 after World War II, didn’t wing it or get out of there.

“Well, if they told us that in the 1960s, I can imagine what they must have said to Jerry Priddy in the 1940s, coming out to our all-Black housing projects in northern Washington,” Wills said.

Priddy stayed for two hours talking to those kids — one in particular.

“He looked us right in the eyes as he talked to us,” Wills said. “I remember him looking at me and picking me out to catch a ground ball. He said, ‘Watch this boy here. He does it right.’ I took my little crow hop and threw the ball to him and I popped his mitt. He was impressed. He said, ‘Son, that’s good. Where did you learn that?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ He said, ‘That’s amazing. You keep playing because you have a chance to be a good baseball player one day.’”

“From that moment on, I had a direction in life,” Wills said. “Before that, I got to school just on time, maybe a little bit late at times. I didn’t do my homework the way I should have done it. After Jerry Priddy said that to me, I was on time for school. My folks didn’t have to roust me out of bed to get ready to go to school.”

The full story is at: