'Uncle' Maury Wills talks egos, Dodgers history and his role with this year's team
"They call me 'Uncle Maury," said Maury Wills, as he gestured toward the field where the Dodgers were taking batting practice before Game 3 of the NLCS.
As if on cue, Dee Gordon, a young speedster who possesses similar qualities that made Wills a star more than 50 years ago, ran up to Wills and said, "Hi, Uncle Maury."
At 81, Wills is spry, engaging and sharp as a tack. All qualities that make him a valuable resource for a Dodgers organization that relies heavily on its past stars to guide today's players.
Wills, who played for L.A. from 1959-66 and again from '69-72, said it was his goal at age 14 to play for the Dodgers because of Jackie Robinson. He joined their Minor League system three years later and is now part of the team's Legends Bureau.
"I'm still here," he said Monday. "It's my life. I hope it never ends."
Wills still identifies with today's players, regardless of how many years separate them, mainly because they all have one thing in common. Ballplayers are, by Wills' definition, "egomaniacs in this game."
"I know how to get around that," Wills said. "I was one of them."
But that's not a bad thing, is it?
"I couldn't have been as good as I was if I hadn't been," Wills said. "When you've got 60,000 people cheering? You've got to have no fear. You've got to believe you're the best, you're the greatest. I was always the littlest one on the field, but I felt like I was the biggest. I wasn't faking it. I had to feel that way."