Tuesday, September 20, 2022

RIP - Maury Wills

Maury Wills, the Dodgers' shortstop for most of the 1960s, passed away on September 19, 2022 at age 89. 
He was the 10th-oldest player still living who had a player card in the 1967 or later sets.
Wills debuted in June 1959, taking over the shortstop job from Don Zimmer. He was the Dodgers' starting shortstop through the end of the 1966 season. During that time he led the NL in stolen bases from 1960-65 (including a record 104 in 1962). He also led the league in triples in '62 and was named the MVP. 
Traded to the Pirates, he was their 3rd baseman for 2 seasons, then was selected by the Expos in the expansion draft. 
After a half-season as Montreal's shortstop, Wills returned to the Dodgers and his old starting shortstop job until he was replaced by Bill Russell in late-April 1972. Wills retired after the season. 
He famously did not have any Topps baseball cards until 1967, despite being a top-line player for 7 previous seasons.  

Monday, September 5, 2022

RIP - Lee Thomas

Lee Thomas, a slugging 1B-OF for the Angels in their first few seasons, passed away on August 31, 2022 at age 86.
My earliest recollection of Thomas was as a little-used backup with the Cubs and Astros at the end of his career, but he was a significant player earlier in the decade. 
Thomas was a regular with the Angels from 1961 to 1963. He hit 50 homers in his first 2 seasons, and made the All-Star team in 1962. 
After a power shortage in 1963, he was traded to the Red Sox in mid-1964 and regained double-digit home run totals in '64 and '65. That was his last season as a regular player. 
He bounced to the Braves, Cubs, and Astros in bench roles for 3 years, then finished up with seasons in Japan and AAA ball. 
Following his playing career, Thomas worked for the Cardinals as a minor-league coach and manager, and in the front office. He was the GM for the Phillies from 1988-97, constructing the 1993 World Series team. He later worked in the front office for the Red Sox, Astros, Brewers, and Orioles.