The KC Royals have had plenty of heavy hitters through history, but one first baseman is remembered for his power and getting on base.
When remembering players through history, there are a lot of different categories one might look through. Some of the first that come to mind could be those who spent their entire career with a team, such as Alex Gordon or George Brett for the KC Royals.
There are plenty of players, though, who may have only spent a few years with one particular team, but left a lasting impact. This can be said of first baseman John Mayberry.
Mayberry, while a big part of Royals history, did not start his baseball journey in Kansas City. He was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in the first round of the 1967 draft, a few years before the KC Royals got things going.
Mayberry didn’t spend much time in the minors, hitting Single-A and Triple-A in 1968 and also seeing a few games in the majors that year. He still was never able to be exactly what Houston wanted in the major leagues. He saw his time split between Triple-A and the majors from 1969 through 1971.
After the 1971 season, the Astros traded Mayberry along with David Grangaard to the Royals for Lance Clemons and Jim York. This turned out to be a fairly one-sided trade as Kansas City saw the production out of Mayberry the Astros wanted.
Mayberry got things off to a good start in 1972, slashing .298/.394/.507. He also blasted 25 home runs, walked 78 times as opposed to 74 strikeouts, and knocked in 100 RBI’s becoming the first Royal to accomplish this feat. He received enough MVP votes to finish 12th in voting.
In 1973, Mayberry saw even more production. he slashed .278/.4.17/.478 and added 26 home runs, 122 walks, and put up another 100 RBI season. He saw his first All-Star game this season and again received MVP votes, finishing 7th.
In 1974, while his numbers weren’t as good as years past, Mayberry also had to deal with some injury. He pulled a muscle in his leg first and also had to deal with a broken right hand. Mayberry still found a way to pull out a season worthy of another All-Star nod.
He slashed .234/.358/.424 and put up 22 home runs and 69 RBI’s over 126 games.
In 1975, Mayberry found his stride again. He slashed .291/.416/.547, smashing 34 home runs, recording 106 RBIs, and walking 119 times as opposed to 73 strikeouts. He finished second in MVP voting during this season.
Up until this point, Mayberry looked to be on track to continue his greatness, but 1976 brought a decline. Mayberry slashed .232/.322/.342 and while he still managed to bat in 95 runs, he only saw 13 home runs. Still, he walked more than striking out as usual and received 1 MVP vote.
Mayberry saw better numbers in 1977 though he was still not at the level he was when he started in Kansas City. He slashed .230/.336/.401 and batted in 82 runs along with 23 home runs.
During the 1977 ALCS, Mayberry showed up late for Game 4. There was thought that this was due to staying out late and partying. He started the game, but after struggling to play well, was taken out by manager Whitey Herzog.
Mayberry didn’t get the start in game 5, and the Royal’s ALCS loss to the Yankees was blamed by some on the first baseman.
Due to his decline and rumors of alcohol and drug use, Mayberry was soon sent to Toronto for the 1978 season. He saw a few decent seasons with Toronto and started to find his power again, but continued to see a decline and in 1982, he was traded to the New York Yankees. He played his last games in New York and was released by the Yankees in March of 1983.
While Mayberry’s time in Kansas City was fairly short, and some questions remain about the decision to part ways with the slugger, he still impacted the Royals and left his mark in team history.
Mayberry was the first Royal to hit the 100 RBI mark and did it three times, and he also held the record for some time for single-season home runs after hitting 34 in 175.
Mayberry can still be found in the Royal’s career top 10 for offensive WAR (21.1), on-base percentage (.375), OPS (.822), home runs (143), RBIs (552), and walks (561).
Mayberry was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame in 1996.
John Mayberry may not have been a lifelong Royal, but he will always be remembered as an important part of Royal’s history. From his RBI hitting to on-base percentage, he produced great baseball in Kansas City and will always be Forever Royal.