Infielder Maury Wills returned to Los Angeles in a three-cornered trade involving the Dodgers, the Montreal Expos, and the Chicago Cubs. The Dodgers traded Ron Fairly and Paul Popovich to the Expos for Wills and outfielder Manny Mota. Montreal then swapped infielder Popovich to the Cubs for center fielder Adolfo Phillips and relief pitcher Jack Lamabe.
“We think our trade will help us. That’s why we made it,” said Vice President Al Campanis of the Dodgers. “We are trading two players, who are not playing, for Wills, who we expect to play, and Mota who will play against left-handed pitching.” The key figure in the switches, as far as the Dodgers were concerned, was Wills, their 36-year-old former captain. He was dealt to Pittsburgh by the Dodgers after a fall-out with owner Walter O’Malley during the 1966 season. Along with Mota, he went to Montreal in the expansion draft.
Fairly and Popovich have seen little action. Fairly, an outfielder and 11-year man in the majors, all with Los Angeles, has been at bat 58 times for a .224 average. Ron is 31. Popovich was batting a scant .077 in 52 at bats for the Dodgers. He spent his entire professional career dating back to 1960 in the Cub organization before being traded to the Dodgers on November 30, 1967 for Lou Johnson.
Wills had announced his retirement prior to a game last week. Wills batted .190 in 47 games for the Expos and had been booed by Montreal fans for his lackluster performance for the expansion club.