Card Corner: Bump Wills and Blue Jays
The report made some logical sense. Wills had experienced a down season in 1978 after playing so well as a rookie in 1977. The Blue Jays also needed help at second base.
Convinced that he had a scoop and figuring that he could release an accurate and updated card ahead of the curve, Berger said he instructed his production people to attach the name “Blue Jays” to the bottom of the Wills card. And thus was born the famed “Bump Wills as a Blue Jay” card.
Wills did well in his one season in Chicago. Impressing the Cubs with his scrappy, all-out effort, Wills hit .272 with 35 steals while teaming with veteran shortstop Larry Bowa. But the question remained: Could the Cubs re-sign Wills, who was set to hit the open market as a free agent?
Several reports developed in the winter of 1982, indicating that Wills might be making his way to the Bronx. The scenario was somewhat complicated. The New York Yankees were considering a major trade that would have sent Willie Randolph to the Cubs for Billy Buckner. Such a move would have filled a major need at first base for the Yankees, but would have also created a large void at second base. According to one hot rumor that winter, the Yankees were prepared to replace the departed Randolph with the faster and younger Wills.
The additions of the two former Cubbies would have given the Yankees a hyperactive offensive infield of Buckner, Wills, Roy Smalley at shortstop, and Graig Nettles at third base. On the other hand, the infield reconfiguration would have created more than a few misadventures defensively.
Bruce Markusen is the manager of digital and outreach learning at the National Baseball Hall of Fame