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.