Monday, May 16, 2011

Familiar Faces / Strange Places: Maury Wills / Mariners

I love the original Seattle Mariners trident M. It is both simple and brilliant at the same time. If I was in charge of the Mariners, the first thing I would do would be to re-incorporate it into my brand.

As a player, Maury Willis was a speedy switch-hitting shortstop. His best years were as a member of the Dodgers, where he won three world championships. In 1962 he stole 104 bases to set a new single season record, breaking Ty Cobbs old mark of 96. That season he stole more bases than all the other teams in the league and was MVP of both the National League and the All Star Game. He also played in 165 games in 1962, setting a record that still stands today. During his playing career he made seven All Star teams (actually 5 different years, they played two all star games in '61 & '62) and won two gold gloves.

He retired after the 1972 season. He worked in TV and managed in Mexico for a couple seasons. Then he wrote a book and actively sought a managers position claiming he "could take any last-place club and make them champions within four years." The 1980 Seattle Mariners took him up on the offer, but things did not go as planned. To put it nicely, Wills was an incredibly inept manager. He had a drug problem, was a poor communicator, once called for a relief pitcher when he had no one warming up in the bullpen, and was once caught by Billy Martin after he ordered the Mariners grounds keeper to make the batter's boxes one foot longer than regulation to help Tom Paciorek. He lasted less than one full season, leading the Mariners to a dismal 26-56 record. The .317 winning percentage is one of the worst records for a non-interim big-league manager in history.


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