Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Cary Osborne

Minutes before he took the field on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium for the Dodgers’ Vin Scully tribute, Dodger legend Maury Wills reflected on a gift given to him from the Hall of Fame announcer. It’s a gift that has stayed with the 1962 National League MVP for more than 50 years.

“Vin coined the phrase, ‘The Mouse that Roared,’” said Wills, the small-statured former shortstop who brought the stolen base back to baseball in the 1960s. “Not everybody has a nickname. When you get a nickname, then you know you’ve arrived.”

Wills was the second Dodger legend, after Don Newcombe and before Sandy Koufax, who took the field during the ceremony honoring the legendary broadcaster in his final season.

“I was the captain of the team,” Wills continued, “stealing the bases, getting the crowd reaction and Vin on the microphone. He coined that phrase, and it hung on a long time. I found that very flattering.

“We all have to retire one day, I guess. A better thought is how I feel about Vin Scully. The greatest. A wonderful man. In the days I was with the Dodgers, we all flew on the Dodger plane as we flew around the league, and Vin was with us. I got to be interviewed by him Spring Training, regular-season games, postseason games. Just a tremendous baseball man and individual. Well-loved.”

Speaking of retirement, Wills said he’s not there yet. During Spring Training, the 83-year-old told reporters 2016 would be his last year of helping out. Whether it was the excitement of Opening Day or not, he has not closed the door on coaching yet.

“I said it in the spur of the moment,” explained Wills, who walked around Dodger Stadium this morning giving high-fives and posing for pictures with anyone who asked for one. “When the question was thrown at me, the emotion came out. That’s how I felt at the time. I can’t say for sure. What would I do if there were no baseball in my life? So let’s put that on the backburner for a while.”

Originally published April 12, 2016