Mayberry reflects on different hitting era

Former Royals slugger was on-base machine

March 19th, 2018

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- If only former Royals slugger John Mayberry had played his career in today's era.

Mayberry would have been an analytics darling.

Mayberry, who played six years with the Royals in the 1970s, hit 255 homers over a career that included stops with the Astros, Blue Jays and Yankees. And he was an absolute on-base machine, posting a career .360 OBP.

Royals Hall of Fame

In 1973, Mayberry hit 26 home runs, drove in 100 runs, and led the league with 122 walks and a .417 OBP. For that, he earned $50,000.

Two years later, Mayberry hit 34 homers and drew a league-high 119 walks, posting a .416 OBP.

Numbers like that would have made Mayberry a millionaire many times over today.

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"Funny you say that, because back in my day, if you walked, it was like you had a bad at-bat," Mayberry said. "Taking a walk -- you didn't do nothing. Nowadays they understand the importance of not killing a rally -- a walk doesn't kill a rally."

And consistently drawing walks and getting on base can make you rich today.

"Mickey Mantle said the same kind of thing about us," Mayberry said, smiling. "He was a Triple Crown winner and he made $120,000. We were making $300,000 or $400,000, hitting .220.

"That's just the way the game is today. It all changes with time. You can't stop it. More media, more teams, more money. Today's players deserve what they get."

Mayberry, one of several guest instructors in Royals camp, eventually earned up to $800,000 a year with the Blue Jays and Yankees. He was more than happy with that.

"Oh, no. I never look back," he said. "I enjoyed myself to the utmost. Baseball was good to me. I can sleep in good conscience."

Another statistic Mayberry was proud of was his low number of strikeouts. Despite his power numbers, he never struck out 100 times in a season.

"[Striking out] was embarrassing," Mayberry said. "Back in my time it was the worst out you can make. Now they accept it because they hit more homers, I guess."

Mayberry, 69, is in awe of the raw power tools that today's young players have. Mayberry's generation had power hitters as well, just not as many.

"I get flashbacks all the time when I see one of these kids hit it out," Mayberry said. "It's fun. I've been in this game all my life and it's still enjoyable to watch."