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Dodgers Dugout exclusive: Maury Wills thanks fans, Dodgers for his special night

Maury Wills in 1962.
(Associated Press)
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Hi, and welcome to a special edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and today we give the stage to Maury Wills.

For the record:

8:35 a.m. April 12, 2022An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Maury Wills Night at Dodger Stadium is Tuesday.

Saturday night is Maury Wills night at Dodger Stadium. He is being honored with a bobblehead, and will be inducted into the “Legends of Dodgers baseball” club.

Wills is one of the more beloved former Dodgers in history, and fans from the 1960s still remember chanting “Go Maury Go” for him every time he reached first base in anticipation of another stolen base.

Especially in 1962, when he was named NL MVP after stealing a then-record 104 bases.

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Unfortunately, Wills won’t be able to be at the ceremony honoring him Saturday night. Instead, earlier this week he shared, exclusively with Dodgers Dugout, the speech he would have given if he could have been there:

For as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a baseball player. I was playing sandlot baseball before I had a pair of shoes. Not cleats – shoes, period. And from the age of 14, when my hero, Jackie Robinson, became a Dodger, I wanted to be a Dodger. I spent nine years in the minor leagues waiting for that chance, and finally made it! So, like Lou Gehrig, I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world. I thank God for a lot of people in my life. I had wonderful parents, I have marvelous children and grandchildren. I wish I could name them all, but you’d be here all night, and you’d much rather watch the game. So, here are just a few:

Jerry Priddy, who, when I was 11, was the first person to tell me that I had the talent to become a good ballplayer. (He also asked me why I was barefoot.)

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Rex Bowen and John Curry, who brought me into the Dodgers organization in the first place.

Bobby Bragan, who taught me how to switch hit.

Walter Alston, who encouraged me to steal bases.

Fred Claire, and especially Don Newcombe, who saved my life by getting me into a rehab program.

Sandy Koufax, Don Newcombe, Tommy Davis, John Roseboro, Willie Davis, Don Drysdale, Dave Roberts and John Boggs, for being such great friends.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who gave me not only my first chance but second, third, multiple chances at a great career.

Dodgers fans, who encouraged me time and time again to give my all. On days when I was really hurting, hearing “Go! Go! Go, Maury, go!” kept me running.

And last, but certainly not least, is my wonderful wife, Carla, who has brought me so much joy for the last fifteen years.

I wouldn’t be here today if my friends, with the help of God, and some wonderful organizations that want to remain anonymous, hadn’t literally saved my life. Please, if you know someone with a substance abuse problem, help them save their lives too.

I wish for each of you to have as fortunate a life as I have had. God bless the Los Angeles Dodgers. And may God bless you all.

And finally

Maury Wills and the late Tommy Davis discuss the Dodgers. 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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