Jul 28, 2016

Former 2015 NL Champion Mets Mets Utility Player: John Mayberry Jr. (2015)

John Claiborn Mayberry Jr. was born December 21st 1983 in Kansas City, Missouri. He is the son of former MLB slugger; John Mayberry Sr. The six foot six inch right hand hitting outfielder attended local high school & then went to Stanford University.

He was a star player both in high school & at Stanford where he got to the College World Series as a freshman. He also played for Team USA in 2004 winning the University Championship.

He was drafted in the first round (the 19th pick overall) by the Texas Rangers in 2005. He proved to labeled a slugger early on as he hit 21 HRs at A ball in 2006. In 2007 he totaled 30 HRs between A ball plus Bakersfield & AA Frisco.

In 2008 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies organization for Greg Golson. He got to the AAA level, hitting 16 HRs with 30 doubles at Lehigh Valley.

He debuted with the Phillies in 2009 hitting a three run HR against the AL New York team, in his first game. That day the FOX cameras wrongly identified a man in the stands as his father, Mayberry Sr. John Jr. got a kick out of the whole mistaken identity thing.

He got into 39 games, hitting 4 HRs with 8 RBIs in 57 at bats. He got in just 11 games the next year, spending most of the year at Lehigh Valley hitting 15 HRs but striking out 111 times. In 2011 he got into 104 games becoming a big part of the Phillie line up, hitting 15 HRs with 17 doubles batting .273 for the first place Phils.

Trivia: That year Mayberry made headlines when he tried to use his agent to get a date with  Bronx born, Albanian actress; Antoinette Nikprelaj, who played a mermaid in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. What he & the agent did not know was that she was married and had a daughter.

In 2012 he saw action in 149 games, hitting 14 HRs with career highs in doubles (24) & hits (108) batting .245. He struck out 111 times that season & 90 times the next year in 353 at bats. 2013 was his last year as a regular utility man, as he fell to a .227 average with 11 HRs.

On June 4th 2013, he became the first player in 25 years to hit two extra inning HRs in a game. In the bottom of the 10th, with the Phillies trailing the Miami Marlins, 3-2, he hit a HR to tie the game. Then in the 11th, he came up against Edgar Olmos with the bases loaded and homered for a walk off grand slam. No player had ever hit two extra inning HRs with one being a grand slam.

In 2014 he was traded from the lowly Phillies to the Toronto Blue Jays for a minor leaguer. There he played just 15 games batting .208 & was let go to free agency.

In the off season he was signed by the New York Mets. Mayberry would be used by Manager Terry Collins at first base, the outfield & as a pinch hitter. He made his Mets debut on Opening Day, going 0-1 as a pinch hitter in the 3-1 win in Washington. On April 10th he got his first start & hit his first Mets HR a solo shot in a 5-3 Mets loss to the Braves in Atlanta.

Over the next month he was in a major drought seeing his average fall to .103. Then on May 14th he had an two run single at Wrigley Field. On May 18th he had his biggest Mets hit, it came as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 14th inning of a 1-1 tie with the St. Louis Cards at Citi Field. Mayberry singled home the winning run as Eric Campbell scored the walk off run.

June seemed to be better for Mayberry as he had a big four hit day in Arizona, driving in two of the Mets six runs, including his second HR of the season in the 6-2 win. That week he saw his average climb back up over .200 as well. On June 12th he hit a two run HR helping Bartolo Colon beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 at Citi Field.

At the end of July Mayberry was hitting .164 with 3 HRs 9 RBIs & was designated for assignment.

After his release from the Mets he was signed but released by the Chicago White Sox & Detroit Tigers. In his seven year career he played in 574 games batting .235 with  326 hits 56 HRs 83 doubles 180 RBIs  & 172 runs scored. He played 404 outfield games 75 games at First base & 5 games as a DH.

John Mayberry Jr's Father- MLB Player John Mayberry Sr. (1968-1982)

John Claiborn Mayberry Sr. was born February 18th 1949 in Detroit, Michigan. The six foot three left hand hitter was a star athlete in high school playing Basketball, baseball & football.

In 1967 he was a first round draft pick of the Houston Astros, the 6th pick overall. Mayberry climbed through the ranks of the minor leagues, hitting 23 HRs overall in 1968 establishing himself as a slugger. He made his MLB debut with the Astros that same year, playing four games in September. In one contest he was thrilled to meet his hero Hank Aaron who was with the Atlanta Braves.

In 1969 he hit 21 HRs at AAA Oklahoma, getting back for five more games in Houston at the end of the season. Mayberry was slugging but also striking out often & the Astros tried to make him hit for more contact to slow down on the strike outs.

Quotes: John Mayberry- "They wanted me to cut down on my strikeouts,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."

He spent two more seasons playing part time in Houston before getting traded to the Kansas City Royals for Jim York & Lance Clemons. It was in Kansas City Mayberry hit his prime.

Over the next four years Mayberry would make two All Star appearances (1973-1974) & be one of the leagues top sluggers, run producers & best defensive first baseman in the AL.  Mayberry would be in the top six of the AL HR leaders each season, hitting over 25 HRs in three of those years.

Mayberry would also drive in over 100 runs in three of those four years & come in the leagues top three in that category for three straight seasons. He hit over .290 & scored over 85 runs twice in the next four years. He also led the AL in walks twice (1973 & 1975) led the AL in on base % (.417%) in 1973, & hit 20 or more doubles, in six of the next eight years.

In July 1975 he won the AL Player of the month Award where he hit 12 HRs including three against Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins.

Post Season: Mayberry was the Royals first baseman in 1976 & 1977 when they won two of three straight AL Western Division titles.

In the Game #5 of the 1976 ALCS he hit a 1st inning two run HR putting the Royals up first, but they eventually lost on Chris Chambliss' walk off HR. In the 1977 ALCS he hit a two run HR in Game #1 off Dick Tidrow. In both series he would drive in three runs each time.

Drama: Mayberry arrived late for ALCS Game #4 which was a day game. He was out late the night before & had a poor day at the plate when he did arrive.  He struck out twice & dropped a foul ball as well as a throw at first base.

Manager Whitey Herzog was livid, he benched him mid way through the game & left him out of the line up in Game #5. He then blamed Mayberry as the main reason the Royals lost the series & wanted him off the team.

At the start of the 1978 season his contract was purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays who were in their second year of existence. He spent four 1/2 seasons in Toronto having his best year in 1980 hitting 30 HRs with 82 RBIs. His numbers slowly began to fall off as his career went on. He closed out his career in 1982 with the AL New York club playing in 69 games.

In his career "Big John" had 1379 hits, with 255 HRs 211 doubles 879 RBIs 881 walks a .360 on base % & a .253 batting average in 1620 games. At first base he led the league in fielding three times. He still holds records for the Royals & Blue Jays offensively.

Retirement: After his playing days, Mayberry spent five years as a Blue Jays minor league coach. He then worked for the Royals Community Affairs Dept. He was also inducted to the Royals Hall of Fame in 1996.

Family: His son is MLB player John Mayberry Jr. John Sr. did not have his son until he was finished playing the major leagues.

Jul 12, 2016

2015 NL Champion Mets Relief Pitcher: John Leathersich (2015)

John Victor Leathersich was born July 14th 1990 in Beverly, Massachusetts. The five foot eleven left hander attended the University of Massachusetts. In his senior year at U Mass he broke school records with 126 strike outs & an average of 12.74 strikes out per nine inning. He was drafted by the New York Mets in the 5th round of the 2011 amateur draft.

Nicknamed the Leather Rocket, he has posted amazing strike out totals but has had control issues which leads to walks & runs. Although he throws at 93 mph tops, his delivery is deceptive & makes his pitches seem like they are actually faster.

In 2011 he pitched at A Ball Brooklyn, striking out 26 batters in 12 2/3 innings while posting a 0.71 ERA for the Cyclones as a reliever. He spent 2012 with Savannah & then St. Lucie where although he was 2-5 he struck out 76 batters in 48 innings but also walked 24.

He was invited to Mets Spring Training in 2013, then pitched at AA Binghamton going 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA, striking out 55 in 29.1 innings of work. He was promoted to AAA Las Vegas where he continued to impress with 47 strike outs in 29 innings going 2-0. Once again his walks were high as he allowed 29 free passes & posted a 7.76 ERA, due to a few bad outings.

In 2014 he spent most of his time at AA Binghamton (37 games) where the strike outs kept coming 79 with 21 walks as well, in just 46 innings of work. He closed out the year at Vegas with the 51's. 

He was back at Mets Spring Training in 2015, taking some pointers from guest instructor & Mets all time save leader; John Franco. He also took some advice from Bobby Parnell who also had control issues. With Leathersich's amazing strike out ratios he needs to gain more control so he can lower his walks & earned runs.

As the 2015 season started, he was back at AAA Las Vegas once again, in 12 games he posted a 1.59 ERA striking out 20 batters in 11 innings.

At the end of April he got a brief call up, making his MLB debut on April 29th, finishing up a 7-3 loss to the Marlins at Miami. The next day he pitched 0.2 of an inning at Citi Field against the Washington Nats, finishing up another loss.

He was sent back down to Las Vegas but returned two weeks later.

On May 13th the Mets place Buddy Carlyle on the 15 day disabled list & once again called up Leathersich.


On May 16th he got to finish up a 14-1 Mets win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Over his next ten games he was used in middle relief all in Mets losses through mid June.

Unfortunately for Leathersich, he was shut down for the season & had to undergo Tommy John surgery. After the season he was placed on waivers & was claimed by the Chicago Cubs. He is currently playing in their minor leagues in 2016.

Jul 2, 2016

Concert Review: Paul Simon At A Wet Forest Hills Stadium -A Triumphant Return Home to Queens


Paul Simon was born in Newark, New Jersey. His family moved to Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, while he was four years old. So he grew up living on 70th Rd. near Jewel Ave, Main St. & Flushing Meadow Park.
As a teen he attended Forest Hills High School where he met Art Garfunkel starting a brilliant career. Many of his early songs were written on 70th Rd.

Tonight just a mile away from his old high school Paul Simon put on a fantastic show (the second of two sell outs) that was only dampened by the weather.
There was a rain delayed late start, over an hour, followed with a brief shower during & then a heavy down pour lasting just to the end of Simon's set to his first encores.
The rain was heavy, lightning was crackling in the skies as everyone crowded into the ancient stadiums underbelly below the grand stands. It was a mess but everyone survived.


God forbid Forest Hills Tennis Stadium postponed the show earlier in the day, since there was even a tornado watch. I guess if it may snow the entire city shuts down, but here it was ok to risk thousands of lives in the dangerous weather conditions.
But Simon & his band did the best to play to the wet crowd. The show even played past the usual 10PM curfew, ending at 11:10PM due to the late start.

Tonight Paul Simon played a variety of songs from his rather eclectic career. Songs ranging from his Simon & Garfunkel sixties days (which seemed to be the most popular with the crowd) to his solo career right, covering all types of world music influences & cultures, right up to his latest album, which is selling very well.

His nine piece band added  great support behind him, but when Simon was alone with his guitar it made for the best parts of the show.
Anytime one of his songs had a New York reference or Queens reference, the crowd gave a loud cheer of approval.

NY References: Dazzling Blue: "Sweet July we drove the Montauk Highway" / That Was Your Mother: "Well I'm standing on the corner of Lafayette, Across from the Public heading down to the Lone Star Cafe" / Me & Julio Down By Schoolyard: "Goodbye Rosie, the Queen of Corona" / The Boxer: "Going Home, Where the New York City winters aren't bleeding me" / The Sound of Silence: "the words of the prophets were written on the subway walls."
The lyrics "Girls out on the stoop" from Late In the Evening as well as "stepped outside to smoke myself a j" got surprisingly loud cheers as well. Simon also had them dancing in the isles on many of the more up beat songs ie: Mother & Child Reunion / Julio / Obvious Child/ Diamonds on Sole of Her Shoes / You Can Call Me Al / Late In Evening . Oh & if rain was mentioned in the lyrics the crowd jeered!

There was even a treat covering That's All Right Mama certainly in tribute to the passing of Elvis guitarist Scottie Moore.

Tonight was the last night of his American tour, fittingly ending in Forest Hills for the home town boy. Simon himself has recently suggested this may be his last tour as thinks about retirement.
In any event he gave the Queens crowd a real treat as he ended the show with two surprises, breaking away from this tour's customary set list.
He did the classics: Sound of Silence  & Bridge Over Troubled Waters. With the latter he stated I don't sing this one too often but everyone seems to want to hear it. And in my opinion these may have been his best vocals of the evening.

Simon & Garfunkel at Simons 70th Rd. Queens Childhood home 1975
Simon looks good at 74 years of age, donning a grey Queens t-shirt changing his sports jackets to a variety  of different colors throughout the show.
His voice still sounds great even if not still having all the elegance it once had. Simon still carried the tunes beautifully through the Queens night, drifting over the Forest Hills Tennis club & into the overcast skies. It was certainly an amazing performance & one hell of a concert.
thanks to these youtube posts from the forest hills concert:

set list Forest Hills Stadium 7/1/16
The Boy In the Bubble
50 Ways To Leave Your Lover
Dazzling Blue
That Was Your Mother
Rewrite
Honky Tonk
Slip Slidin' Away
Mother & Child Reunion
Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard
Spirit Voices
The Obvious Child
Stranger to Stranger
Homeward Bound
El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
Duncan

The Werewolf

The Cool Cool River

Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes

You Can Call Me Al

encore1
Wristband
I Know What I Know
Late In the Evening
Still Crazy After All These Years


encore2
That's All Right Mama
The Boxer
The Sound of Silence
Bridge Over Troubled Water

thanks to these youtube posts from the forest hills concert: