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John Claiborn Mayberry (born February 18, 1949, in Detroit, Michigan) is a former Major League Baseball player who played for the Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees from 1968 to 1982.

High school and minor leagues[]

Mayberry attended Northwestern High School, graduating in 1967. He was a gifted high school athlete, playing baseball, football, and basketball at Northwestern; John was twice named to the Detroit News All-State Basketball Team. After graduation, Mayberry was selected by the Houston Astros in the first round (sixth overall) of the 1967 Major League Baseball Draft. He was the second first baseman taken in the draft, Ron Blomberg having been selected number one overall by the New York Yankees.[1]

As an 18-year-old, Mayberry was assigned to the Covington Astros of the Appalachian League. While there, he batted .252 in the 1967 season, hitting 4 home runs in 155 at-bats.[2] He continued to develop the following season, making appearances at three different levels of minor league baseball. His batting average for the 1968 season was a robust .320, with a high of .338 in 195 at-bats for the Cocoa Astros of the Florida State League. Between three levels, Mayberry hit 23 home runs and slugged .552.[2] He made his major league debut that season, appearing in four games but amassing no hits.[3] During his four-game call-up, Mayberry recalled the first time that he met Hank Aaron, who was playing for the Atlanta Braves:

Template:" 'I just stood there looking at him,' Mayberry said. 'I said to myself, "so this is the Hammer, this is Henry Aaron.Template:" ' "[4]

At 20 years old, Mayberry played 123 games for the Oklahoma City 89ers of the AAA-level American Association. With 21 home runs, a .303 batting average, and a .522 slugging percentage, his power began to resemble the man he met the year before in the majors. He batted in 78 runs and scored 95, walking more times than he struck out (62/42).[2] Mayberry's second short stint in the majors did not result in his first hit, though he did make it on base with one walk in five plate appearances.[5] That would not come until the following year; after playing 70 games at Oklahoma City and batting .273 with 13 home runs, Mayberry was called up to the Houston Astros.

Major league career[]

Houston Astros[]

Mayberry played in 50 games during his first extended stint in "the Show", with his first career hit coming in April 1970 before he was sent back down to AAA. It came against the San Francisco Giants in a 7–4 loss; he hit a single to right field off of Giants right-hander Frank Reberger.[6] The 1971 season was yet another year split between the minor leagues and the major leagues. While he hit .324 with 13 home runs in 64 games in the minors that year,[2] Mayberry could only muster a .182 batting average in 46 games with Houston, hitting seven home runs and striking out 32 times.[5] The Astros tried to turn Mayberry into a slap hitter rather than utilizing his natural power:

Template:" 'They wanted me to cut down on my strikeouts,' he said, 'but all long ball hitters seem to strike out a lot, don't they? What happened was that I not only wasn't cutting down on my strikeouts, but I wasn't hitting the long ball any more either.Template:' "[4]

In the 1971 offseason, the Astros traded Mayberry, along with Dave Graangard, to the Kansas City Royals for Lance Clemons and Jim York.[5] The trade was regarded as one of the worst in baseball history.[4]

Kansas City Royals[]

Mayberry was a classic slugging first baseman who batted left-handed. In his first season with the Royals, he hit 25 home runs and batted in 100 runs.[3] His 78 walks were slightly more than his 74 strikeouts, and his .298 batting average came with the re-discovery of his power stroke.[4][5] The 1973 season produced nearly identical statistics, but yielded better production. Mayberry led the league in walks (122) and on-base percentage (.417) while still batting .278, hitting 26 home runs, and driving in 100 for the second consecutive season.[5] More impressive than his pure statistics, though, was that the Royals had no other power hitters in the lineup to protect Mayberry.[4] Other than center fielder Amos Otis, who equaled Mayberry's 1973 home run total, no other Royals batter achieved double-digit home runs.[7]

1975 was widely considered Mayberry's best season in Kansas City. He set career marks in doubles, home runs, runs scored, and RBI.[5] His 34 home runs in a season were a Royals team record when he retired after the 1982 season.[8] He was named the American League Player of the Month in July 1975 for hitting 12 home runs and posting a .365 batting average,[9] and he hit three home runs in a game against future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins.[10] He also had an eight-game stretch wherein he hit eight home runs.[9] But his good fortune was not to continue. Mayberry's statistics slumped drastically in 1976 and 1977; he amassed a .232 batting average and only 13 home runs in 1976.[5] After arriving late for a day game after a late-night outing, Mayberry played very poorly on both offense and defense, prompting manager Whitey Herzog to ask for his dismissal from the team, though he had "always loved the way John played",[9] and independent of the fact that he had hit for the cycle earlier that year. On August 5, 1977, Mayberry went 4-for-5 against the Chicago White Sox, hitting a single off of Chris Knapp, a home run and a triple off of Bart Johnson, and a double off of Don Kirkwood to complete his cycle; the Royals won, 12–2.[11] Before the 1978 season, the Royals sold Mayberry to the Toronto Blue Jays, who were beginning their second season of play in the American League.[5]

Toronto Blue Jays / New York Yankees[]

After his trade to Toronto, Mayberry only hit above .250 once again in his career.[3] His season high in home runs for Toronto was 30, hit in 1980, but his statistics never returned to their 1975 level.[9] He batted in 82 runs in 1980, but never approached the 100-RBI mark that he had met or exceeded three times with Kansas City.[5] The Blue Jays traded Mayberry to the Yankees in 1982, but he retired at the end of the season having posted a .218 batting average, 10 home runs, and 30 RBI.[5] In his last three seasons, Mayberry began to strike out more than walk, a trend that differed from his early career.[3]

Career notes[]

Mayberry was an All-Star twice in his career (1973–1974). In 15 seasons, he compiled a .253 batting average with 255 home runs and 879 RBI. He had 1,379 career hits in 5,447 at bats.[3] He shares the record for most home runs in a season without hitting a double, with 7 in 1971.[5] Upon his retirement, he held both the Royals and Blue Jays franchise records for home runs in a single season,[8] and had the 12th-best fielding percentage among first basemen for his career.[9]

After baseball[]

After his retirement, Mayberry spent five years as a coach for the Blue Jays' farm system, two years as a coach for the Royals, and worked for the Royals' Community Affairs Department. He was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1996.[9]


Mayberry's son, John, Jr., is currently an outfielder in the Philadelphia Phillies system. When watching his son's first game at Yankee Stadium, the Fox telecast incorrectly identified Mayberry Sr. in the stands. When told of the incident, John, Jr. said, "I got a kick out of that".[12] John, Jr. hit his first two career home runs in 2009 against his father's last two teams.[12][13]

See also[]


  1. 1st Round of the 1967 June Draft. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 John Mayberry Minor League Statistics and History. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 John Mayberry. The Baseball Cube. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Template:Cite journal
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 John Mayberry Statistics and History. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.
  6. Houston Astros vs San Francisco Giants Play by Play and Box Score. Sports Reference LLC (April 9, 1970). Retrieved on June 19, 2009.
  7. 1973 Kansas City Royals Batting, Pitching, & Fielding Statistics. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Template:Cite journal
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Porter, David L. (2000). Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: G–P. Greenwood Publishing Group. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.
  10. Kansas City Royals vs Texas Rangers Play by Play and Box Score. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.
  11. Kansas City Royals 12, Chicago White Sox 2. Retrosheet, Inc. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Obernauer, Michael (May 24, 2009). Mayberry's debut a blast for dad, too. New York Daily News. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.
  13. Zolecki, Todd (June 18, 2009). Trots for naught. Major League Baseball. Retrieved on June 19, 2009.

External links[]