Maury Wills - News
 Home  |  Biography  |   Hall of Fame  |   Photos/Cards  |   Links  |   FAQ  |   Contact Us  |   News/Press  |   Store 

News and Press Releases

Dodgers Great Wills Comes Back to Help

By Akeya Dickson, Special thanks to The Washington Post

Sunday, April 4, 2004; Page E08

Maury Wills first dreamed of playing major league baseball after meeting Jerry Priddy of the Washington Senators at a youth clinic he attended in the District in the 1940s. About 60 years later, Wills is hoping to provide similar encouragement to the city's current group of fledgling ball players.

A sea of at least 200 kids, donning royal blue Los Angeles Dodgers hats, watched intently yesterday afternoon at Banneker Field as Wills demonstrated the best way to catch a fly ball. It was part of the instruction given during the Maury Wills Invitational, which will also include tournament games featuring three local high schools -- Cardozo, Eastern and Carroll -- and Charlotte Amalie High School from the Virgin Islands.

"By the time he left I knew that that's what I wanted to do, be a professional ballplayer," said Wills, a three-sport standout at Cardozo who played 14 seasons in the big leagues and was the National League most valuable player in 1962. "When [Cardozo Coach Frazier O'Leary] called me to do this tournament, I had to jump at the opportunity of service, so that I might be able to inspire some of these kids."

Cardozo senior second baseman Manty Korona participated in the tournament last year and will be playing again this year. "Last year's tournament prepared us for our season," Korona said. "This is only my third year playing baseball, and it helped us greatly develop our skills for the season." O'Leary initially contacted Wills about lending his name to a weekend event designed to spark interest in youth baseball in the District.

Because of budget cuts in the schools, money is raised to support the baseball and softball programs largely through donations and fundraisers like the tournament.

The participants, between 8 and 18 years old, worked on batting, outfield play, throwing, and pitching and catching. Despite the fact that rain earlier in the week had washed out the infield, the kids managed to practice in the outfield and along the perimeter of the foul territory.

The proceeds from the tournament will benefit D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association baseball and softball programs. Plans for a four-team D.C. public high school fastpitch softball format to include girls fell through this year but are slated to be a part of next year's tournament.

Baseball uniforms, gloves, balls and other equipment are the primary concerns of the organizers. In addition to the hats, the Dodgers donated T-shirts and wooden bats.

Although some have said the lack of a baseball team in the District is the main reason why interest in the sport is waning in the city, Wills has a slightly different theory. "The Orioles are close enough," Wills said. "The kids need to be encouraged to get involved. There needs to be more funds put into sports programs for Washington, D.C. schools."

? 2004 The Washington Post Company
Home  |  Biography  |   Hall of Fame  |   Photos/Cards
Links  |   FAQ  |   Contact Us  |   News/Press  |   Store
HOF Joe Morgan calls Santos and Wills "no bra...
13th National Veterans Golden Age Games Award...
Former Dodger great Wills to throw ceremonial...
Click here to have Maury sign your items!
Did you know Maury

-was the first person to steal over 100 bases in a season, with 104 in 1962

-was the 1961 & 1962 winner of the Gold Glove Award

-was the 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, & 1965 leader in stolen bases

-was the 1962 National League Most Valuable Player