Baseball card collectors know all too well that Maury Wills is one of a few players Topps was just never able to land for their annual releases. Stan Musial and Ted Williams were notorious holdouts over money, signing more lucrative exclusive deals elsewhere. Wills didn’t show up until 1967, long after his prime.
The RMY Auctions Photo of the Day is one of those rare images of the speedy infielder before he became a vital member of the early 1960s Dodger teams. Taken while Wills was playing minor league ball in Spokane, Washington, the 6 ¾”x 9” photo originated in the archives of a local newspaper, where it sat for many years.
Wills was 26 in 1959, essentially just a veteran presence for the Dodgers’ top minor league affiliate. New manager Bobby Bragan saw him playfully switch-hit during one batting practice session and then taught Wills how to do it well. Don Zimmer’s broken toe opened the door and Wills got the call.
He never looked back, spending the next 14 years in the majors.
Known for his base stealing ability, Wills was also a solid hitter and defender, winning two Gold Gloves and racking up 2,134 hits in his career.
Wills led the league in stolen bases six times, was the NL MVP in 1962 when he broke Ty Cobb’s stolen base record with 104. He also won three World Series during his career.
The photo is among hundreds of images up for bid through Sunday at RMYAuctions.com.