March 7, 2003
| John Mayberry, Jr.
Hometown: Kansas City, MO
High School: Rockhurst HS
The "little knucklehead" grew up with the game. Well, John Mayberry, Jr. is not so little any more and definitely not a knucklehead as he was affectionately called by Bo Jackson when he was a youngster hanging out with the Kansas City Royals.
Now, Mayberry is one of the most highly-touted freshman baseball players in the country and a candidate for national Freshman of the Year honors after a terrific start to his collegiate career. Through 18 games, Mayberry is hitting .355 with three homers, four triples, 12 RBI and three stolen bases. He currently has an 11-game hitting streak in which he is tearing the cover off the ball with a .435 batting average during the period.
As the son of former Major League All-Star and Kansas City Royals' coach John Mayberry, he has been around the game since virtually the day he was born.
"I definitely grew up around the game," emphasized Mayberry. "I was always that little kid asking for autographs and picking the players' brains with whatever questions I had. I was there pretty much every game that I could be. Baseball is something that I've been around my whole life, and I hope to continue to be."
He's got a great chance. Mayberry was a highly-coveted high school player and selected by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the 2002 MLB First-Year Player Draft before choosing a Stanford education and the opportunity to play baseball for the Cardinal over a potentially lucrative professional offer.
"The main temptation to sign a professional contract was that being a pro baseball player is something that I've strived for my entire life," admitted Mayberry. "But, I believe that I've just postponed it for a little bit. Coach (Mark) Marquess does a great job of preparing players for professional baseball. His track record with developing Major League Players obviously shows he's doing the right thing, so I wasn't worried about the preparation here compared to the minor leagues."
"Stanford is a great place to be with the academics and the quality baseball program that we have, so the chance to come here made my decision easier," added Mayberry.
"From the first day of practice, it was obvious that the players on this team were going to be a great bunch of guys to be around."
Mayberry also points out the advantage he has had to have a father who can relate to what he may be going through at any time.
"I enjoy talking to my dad, and I couldn't be more thankful than to have a father who played pro baseball," said Mayberry. "It's great to have someone to really encourage you and understand first hand what you might be going through and help you through it."
"But my ultimate love for baseball comes from myself," continued Mayberry. "If I didn't want to play, my dad wouldn't have pushed me to do so. It's just something I love to do. When we talk, we don't usually even discuss baseball that much. He just says to go have fun, get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it. He keeps it pretty simple."
Mayberry's family also emphasized the benefits of going to school.
"I've always been given advice by my family that you can meet lifelong friends and network in college," explained Mayberry. "Plus, getting a Stanford degree is something few people have. If you have it, you're first in line for a lot of jobs."
Mayberry already has lots of plans for his life after he steps off the field with that Stanford degree in hand and his interests including a front office job or a coaching position with a major league team.
But for now, his emphasis is on a Stanford baseball career that began just a little over a month ago ... one that has began with a bang.
by Kyle McRae