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Dodgers Dugout: Maury Wills answers your questions

Maury Wills points out a few things to future Dodger manager Dave Roberts in 2003.
Maury Wills, left, points out a few things to future Dodger manager Dave Roberts in 2003.
(Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and today we hear from a Dodgers legend.

A couple of weeks ago I asked readers to send in questions for Maury Wills, and questions came pouring in. I was able to talk to Wills on Monday and get an answer to some of those questions. I used the name of the first person to send me the question, but all the questions were sent in several times.

This winter, the Golden Days Era committee meets to determine whether Wills, and a handful of others, should make the Hall of Fame. There are 16 members of the committee, whose names have not been announced yet. If Wills, who turns 89 in October, doesn’t make it this time, he will have to wait until 2025 for his next chance.

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Many of you have written me to ask how you can make your feelings known to the committee. Well, you will have to do it the old-fashioned way. Write a letter and mail it. Josh Rawitch, a former Dodgers president of content and communications, is the new president of the Hall of Fame. He told me he will make sure anything sent to him ends up in front of the committee. So, put your thoughts down, be polite, and your voice will be heard. You can send it to:

Golden Days Era committee
c/o Josh Rawitch
25 Main St.
Cooperstown, NY 13326

And now, let’s hear from the man himself.

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Maury Wills, left, points something out to future Dodger manager Dave Roberts, center, and Alex Cora in 2003.
(Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles Times)

Ray Pacini of Newport Beach asks: Who was the toughest pitcher to hit and who was the toughest pitcher to steal off of?

Wills: I guess Larry Jackson. He’s the answer to both. If I got a hit or stole a base, then the next time up he made me skip rope or feel the consequences some other way. (Editor’s note: Wills was 36 for 136 against Jackson, with two extra-base hits and three walks).

Michael Ward of Santa Barbara asks: Who was the easiest pitcher to steal on?

Wills: Most of them, really!

Glen Riley asks: How important was it for you to have Jim Gilliam hitting behind you?

Wills: Very important. He took pitches for me, he watched pitches go by [that] he could hit in order to give me a chance to steal. He knew how to block catchers without being called for interference. And he never complained about doing all this. He’d do anything it took to help the team win, even if it meant sacrificing personal glory.

Marc Josloff of Freeport, N.Y., asks: How do you make peace with the fact that you haven’t been voted in to the Hall of Fame to this point?

Wills: I don’t think about it. I’m just grateful that I’m still here and when I look back at my career I have a little chuckle.

Don Wanlass asks: What was the best Dodger team you played on?

Wills: I never look at it that way. I enjoyed every Dodgers team I played on. They were all good. I remember playing in the Coliseum in front of 90,000 people. Before that, the biggest crowd I played for was 1,500. Imagine the sound of 90,000 people saying “Go, Maury, go.” I knew I had a home.

Dozens of people asked: What did you think when the Giants watered down the basepath between first and second to keep you from stealing?

Wills: I was flattered that they would go through all that trouble to try to stop me. Base stealing is another sport all by itself. A game within a game. I was the mouse and the cats were trying to get me.

That’s why everyone loves Mookie

Reds rookie TJ Friedl got his first major league hit, a home run, during Sunday’s game. Traditionally, the ball is thrown into the dugout so the player can save it as a memento. Only this one was in the stands. What to do? Mookie Betts, playing right field, knew what to do. Recognizing that his opponent just got his first hit, he ran to the right-field wall and motioned to the fan who caught the ball.

“I just asked him for the ball. I just told him kind of [through] sign language,” Betts said. “I just said, ‘I’ll throw you another ball, but that’s his first home run, can you throw it back?’ He didn’t hesitate. He threw it right back.”

The fan threw Betts the ball, and the next time Betts went out to right field he had something better than a ball. He gave the fan an autographed Mookie Betts bat.

“I was going to throw him a ball, but I just thought about the bat instead. It’s something he can remember forever,” Betts explained. “Those type of interactions are kind of everlasting. I think one of the last times I talked to Kobe [Bryant], he reminded me that by the time the game’s over and you leave, somebody knows who you are, somebody recognizes you. It’s just another way for somebody to impact somebody’s life. I wasn’t really doing it for the cameras. I was doing it because he immediately threw the ball back and didn’t even ask.”

Friedl: “That’s just first class. It’s incredible. For him to do something like that, it’s definitely just world class out of him. I want to go over there and just say thank you in person. Thank you is all I can really say because it means so much. Just to get that ball back, for it to be my first home run, just for him to know that and turn around to the fan.”

Cody Bellinger is injured

Bellinger broke a rib when colliding with Gavin Lux in the outfield last week. He is day to day (as Vin Scully used to say, aren’t we all?). He didn’t play Sunday and the off day Monday gives him two days to rest.

Go-ahead hits

Here’s something fun to look at. How many go-ahead hits does each Dodger have this season? In other words, if the game is tied, and Corey Seager hits a homer, that’s a go-ahead hit. Trailing 4-3 and Max Muncy hits a two-run double, that’s a go-ahead hit. Doesn’t mean they necessarily won the game, and there can be multiple go-ahead hits in one game. Who would you guess has the most go-ahead hits on the team? Let’s take a look.

Max Muncy, 24
Will Smith, 18
Justin Turner, 17
Trea Turner, 12 (includes Washington)
Mookie Betts, 10
AJ Pollock, 10
Corey Seager, 10
Chris Taylor, 10
Gavin Lux, 7
Cody Bellinger, 6
Zach McKinstry, 6
Austin Barnes, 5
Matt Beaty, 5
Billy McKinney, 2
Albert Pujols, 2
Steven Souza, Jr., 1
Yoshi Tsutsugo, 1
Andy Burns, 0
Sheldon Neuse, 0
DJ Peters, 0
Luke Raley, 0
Zach Reks, 0
Keibert Ruiz, 0
Edwin Ríos, 0

No pitchers have a go-ahead hit.

NL West standings

x-San Francisco, 97-53,
x-Dodgers, 96-54, 1 GB
San Diego, 76-73, 20.5 GB-e
Colorado, 70-79, 26.5 GB-e
Arizona, 48-102, 49 GB-e

x-clinched playoff spot
e-eliminated from division title

Wild-card standings

Top two qualify for the wild-card playoff game to advance to NLDS.

y-Dodgers, 96-54, +15.5
St. Louis, 80-69, —

Cincinnati, 78-73, 3 GB
San Diego, 76-73, 4 GB
Philadelphia, 76-74, 4.5 GB
New York, 73-77, 7.5 GB

y-clinched at least the top wild-card spot

NL standings since Aug. 1

Dodgers, 32-11, .744
San Francisco, 31-14, .689
Milwaukee, 28-16, .636
Atlanta, 26-16, .619
St. Louis. 27-17, .614
Colorado, 24-19, .558
Philadelphia, 24-21, .533
Cincinnati, 22-23, .489
Miami, 20-24, .455
New York, 17-28, .378
Chicago, 16-27, .372
San Diego, 15-26, .366
Pittsburgh, 16-29, .356
Arizona, 15-29, .341
Washington, 12-33, .267

The rest of the schedule

Who do the Dodgers and Giants play the rest of the way? Let’s take a look.

Dodgers

Home (6)

Sept. 28-30: San Diego (9-7 against Padres this season)
Oct. 1-3: Milwaukee (1-3)

Away (6)

Tonight-Thursday: Colorado (11-5)
Friday-Sunday: Arizona (14-2)

San Francisco

Home (6)

Sept. 28-30: Arizona (14-2)
Oct. 1-3: San Diego (7-6)

Away (6)

Tonight-Thursday: San Diego (7-6)
Friday-Sunday: Colorado (12-4)

Postseason schedule

If the Dodgers and Giants end up tied for the division lead, they will play one game to determine who wins the division. That game counts as part of the regular season and would be played Monday, Oct. 4 at San Francisco (time has not been announced, but it would be televised on ESPN). The loser of that game will move on to the one-game wild-card playoff, which will be played on Wed., Oct. 6 at either Dodger Stadium or San Francisco. The winner of that wild-card game will move on to the NLDS, which will begin on Friday, Oct. 8 at the home of the NL West winner.

If the Dodgers are the wild-card team, they cannot have home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. However, they could have home-field advantage in the World Series if they have a better record than the AL team.

No playoff times have been announced yet, but the NL wild-card game, all NLDS games and all NLCS games will be on TBS. The World Series will be on Fox.

Got all that? Good. There will be a quiz later.

Injury report

Scott Alexander (10-day IL, left shoulder inflammation): He had shoulder surgery and is out for the season.

Cody Bellinger (fractured rib): see the item above.

Danny Duffy (60-day IL, left flexor strain): He had a setback in his rehab and is unlikely to pitch this season.

Billy McKinney (10-day IL, left hip impingement): There is no announced timeline for his return.

AJ Pollock (10-day IL, right hamstring): He will play simulated games in Arizona and the hope is he will be activated after the series in Colorado.

Caleb Ferguson, Tommy Kahnle and Dustin May are all recovering from Tommy John surgery and are out the rest of this season. Jimmy Nelson had elbow surgery and is out for the rest of the season. Cole Hamels has an elbow injury and won’t pitch this season. Jimmie Sherfy has an injured elbow and won’t return this season. Garrett Cleavinger won’t pitch against this season because of an oblique injury. Edwin Ríos had shoulder surgery and is also out for the rest of the season.

In case you missed it

Why a tiebreaker could be the worst-case scenario for the Dodgers (and the Giants)

A key adjustment helped Blake Treinen become a major part of Dodgers’ bullpen

Up next

Tonight, Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 18-3, 2.99 ERA) at Colorado (Antonio Senzatela, 4-9, 4.06 ERA), 5:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Wednesday, Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 14-4, 2.39 ERA) at Colorado (German Márquez, 12-10, 4.16 ERA), 5:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Thursday, Dodgers (Max Scherzer, 15-4, 2.08 ERA) at Colorado (*Kyle Freeland, 6-8, 4.50 ERA), noon, Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

*-left-handed

And finally

Vin Scully remembers 9/11. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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