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Los Angeles Dodgers legend, former RedHawks analyst Maury Wills dies

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced Tuesday, Sept. 20, that the legendary Maury Wills has died.

Maury Wills
Los Angeles Dodgers legend Maury Wills stands in the Maury Wills Museum at Newman Outdoor Field. The museum opened in 2001 and closed in 2017. Wills is a former radio analyst for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
Forum file photo
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FARGO — Los Angeles Dodgers baseball great and former Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks radio analyst Maury Wills has died, the Dodgers announced Tuesday, Sept. 20.

Wills was 89 years old. He died Monday evening in his Sedona, Ariz., home, according to the Dodgers.

“Probably one the kindest, gentlest men you will meet in your life," said RedHawks President/CEO Brad Thom.

Wills was a seven-time Major League Baseball all-star and National League most valuable player in 1962. He led the league in stolen bases for six consecutive seasons and holds the Dodgers record with 490 career stolen bases, retiring in 1972. The RedHawks had a moment of silence to honor Wills before Tuesday's game against the Milwaukee Milkmen in the American Association's Miles Wolff Cup finals at Newman Outdoor Field.

“I just wish people could have known him the way I did." said RedHawks play-by-play announcer Jack Michaels, who shared the broadcast booth with Wills for more than a decade. “Everybody has the idea of the stolen bases, but he was much more than a guy who stole bases.”

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Newman Outdoor Field, home of the RedHawks, housed the "Maury Wills Museum" for nearly two decades before it closed in 2017.

"Knowing that it's been here at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo, I always felt that I had a treasure somewhere stashed away," Wills said during an interview with The Forum in June of 2017.

Wills — who grew up in Washington, D.C. — was involved with the RedHawks since before the 1997 season and until 2017, serving as a coach and radio analyst for the team.

“What a phenomenal life he led." said RedHawks player personnel consultant Jeff Bittiger, who also pitched and coached for the team. "From humble beginnings to being a big league star in Los Angeles to hobnobbing with movie stars. I mean incredible.”

Maury Wills, former Most Valuable Player in Major League Baseball, throws in the first pitch before the RedHawks game Friday, June 23, 2017, at Newman Outdoor Field, Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Maury Wills, former Most Valuable Player in Major League Baseball, signs autographs June 23, 2017, at Newman Outdoor Field, Fargo.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

The RedHawks had their inaugural season in 1996 as a member of the independent Northern League. F-M moved to the American Association in 2011.

“For the RedHawks, he helped set a foundation of credibility in a league that was just beginning," said Bittiger, who has been involved with F-M since its inaugural season in 1996. “Just his name recognition gave the RedHawks instant credibility.”

Wills considered Fargo a second home.

"Fargo reached out with open arms and just loved Maury," said Carla Wills, Maury's wife, in June of 2017.

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"I will always feel connected with Fargo, North Dakota," Maury Wills said in June of 2017.

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In 1998, Wills started in the radio booth with Michaels in nearly a full-time role and then Wills became more or a part-time analyst later in his time with the RedHawks. He was also well known for his "Maury Wills Knothole Gang" youth baseball camps at Newman Outdoor Field.

“He would sign every one of those (Knothole Gang) certificates," Thom said. “He had a blast with that.”

Michaels said he will always cherish his conversations with Wills about baseball and life outside the broadcast booth, including time on the golf course.

“He embraced Fargo," Michaels said. "He loved this area, he loved Fargo-Moorhead and the people in it.”

Wills played 14 years in MLB, including 12 with the Dodgers. He was revered in LA. Thom remembers attending a Maury Wills bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium in the early 2010s.

"He had to have security all around him," Thom said.

“He couldn’t go anywhere in LA without having people stop him in the streets," Michaels said.

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Wills was also a fan favorite in Fargo, often receiving baked goods from fans that were brought up to the radio booth on games he helped call.

“To have a legend like that is second to none, you get that once in a lifetime," Thom said. “We miss the guy dearly.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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