March 26, 2004
For Release Weekend Editions March 27-28, or Thereafter
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Sports Writer
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - John Mayberry Jr. chose a baseball path different
from that of his famous father, going to college before beginning the minor
leagues life of long bus rides and fast food.
Nearly two years later, he has no regrets.
The sophomore first baseman, who became an immediate success at Stanford
last year, has helped the Cardinal to an impressive start this season and a
national ranking as high as No. 1 in the major polls.
The Seattle Mariners selected Mayberry with the 28th overall pick in the
first round of the 2002 draft, but he decided to go to Stanford. Mayberry
figured a few years of college baseball could only boost his chances of getting
selected just as high or higher in the draft the next time around.
"My dad obviously had the background of signing out of high school and
going directly to the minor leagues," Mayberry said. "So he gave me a lot of
help and insight about what that'd be like. My mom wanted me to go to college,
as well as my dad. We figured if I played as well as I'm capable of, then in
three years hopefully I'd be in the same spot in the draft as I was coming out
of high school.
"But I'd also have a Stanford degree, and that's something we couldn't pass
up," added Mayberry, who's already a quarter ahead in his political science
His father played 15 seasons in the big leagues, with Houston, Kansas City,
Toronto and the New York Yankees.
The Mariners planned to use the younger Mayberry as an outfielder, but also
had considered playing him at third base or first.
At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, it's tough to get the ball past Mayberry in the
field - and he's an imposing presence at the plate, too. Heading into a
three-game weekend series against Cal Poly, Mayberry was batting .357 with five
home runs and 22 RBIs.
Last season, he was part of the Stanford team that reached the College World
Series, losing to Rice 14-2 for the NCAA title.
Mayberry wanted to attend Stanford as soon as he learned that his hero, John
Elway, had played football for the Cardinal.
"I actually started cheering for Stanford well before I had hopes of
playing here," he said. "Elway was one of my idols when I was little playing
football. That's how I started being interested in Stanford. I was 9 or 10."
Mayberry grew up hanging out in major league clubhouses with his dad. Even
after his father retired and joined the Royals' coaching staff, Mayberry stayed
around, idolizing Bo Jackson.
"The advantage for John is he's been around baseball his whole life,"
Cardinal coach Mark Marquess said. "He does little things that are unusual. He
can hit to all fields, his swing didn't have to be changed much. John's so big
and baseball's been his whole life."
Yet Mayberry admits that for a short time as a child - maybe when he was 5 -
he wanted to be a garbage man.
"I liked the guys hanging off the Tonka trucks," he said.
Jed Lowrie, Stanford's other standout sophomore infielder, is happy to have
Mayberry around. They're roommates and golf partners, too.
"It's a good situation," said Lowrie, who is batting a team-best .438 with
seven homers and 31 RBIs. "When I first met him I couldn't believe how humble
From a young age, Mayberry showed his athleticism. By the time he was 6 he
was waking up his father at 7:30 a.m. to work on shagging flyballs and fielding
grounders. They used tennis balls at the time.
"He had good hands," his dad recalled. "He had good life in his legs. He
made some good decisions. He was always focused and concentrating."
The father follows Stanford's game on the Internet, and usually talks to his
son after each game.
"He'll probably make his own path," said the elder Mayberry, who hit 255
career homers after being the sixth pick overall in the 1967 draft by Houston.
"The thing I like about John is he's a better person than he is a ballplayer.
Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good - if he stays healthy he has the
chance to do some great things."
His son said, "If I fulfill my expectations for myself, I should be pretty