Mayberry Turns Disappointment to Success

It was late July in 2010 and John Mayberry Jr. sat alone in the middle of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs clubhouse. While there were people all around him, they all knew to just walk past without so much as an acknowledgment.

It was one of those times when you just knew that a guy didn't want to talk. He didn't even want anybody to acknowledge him; just leave the man alone with his thoughts. John Mayberry Jr. sat at a table in the middle of the IronPigs clubhouse, leaning his head on one hand with a dejected and distant look on his usually smiling face.

In Philadelphia, Shane Victorino was in the transactions column as the latest Phillie to go down with an injury and the assumption was that Mayberry would be getting a call to the majors. Mayberry was hitting just .257 at the time, and the Phillies decided to go in a different direction; phenom Domonic Brown was headed to Philadelphia.

At that moment, Mayberry saw a player younger than him, who has not only moved through the minors at quick speed and passed him on all of those virtual depth charts that are out there, but he realized that time was leaving him behind. Brown was 26 years old and was being lapped by younger players. That's not supposed to happen to a guy of his age, especially considering how highly touted Mayberry had been when he was Brown's age. Even Greg Golson, the guy the Phillies gave up to get Mayberry and three years younger, was in the majors with the New York Yankees.

John Mayberry Jr wipes shaving cream pie off of his face after driving in the winning run against Houston in the season opener.
(Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
That was a point in Mayberry's career that he could either sulk and worry about the future or do something positive and make his own future. Mayberry chose the latter. Mayberry hit .289 over the rest of the season with Lehigh Valley and did get a call to Philly in September. Over the winter, Mayberry developed a different approach to the game. He became a more patient hitter. Gone were the days of trying to pull everything and hit it deep into the left field seats. Instead, he was going with pitches and taking a simple base hit where only a base hit was available.

In Friday's opener, Mayberry stepped to the plate with bases loaded and one out in a tie game, knowing that he only needed a decent fly ball to win the season opener for the Phillies. In some terms, that's all he delivered; a lazy fly ball to not-too-deep center field, but in other terms, it was enough. It sailed over Michael Bourn's head and bounced off the Citizens Bank Park grass. Officially, just a single, but it came with an RBI that gave the Phillies a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros and a 1-0 start to the season.

Rather than sitting alone in the clubhouse, Mayberry was surrounded by major league teammates and reporters, wiping the remnants of a shaving cream pie off of his face. It was a far cry from that lonely day in the crowded Lehigh Valley clubhouse. It also cemented the route that Mayberry had chosen in his career. He was going to do everything possible to make sure he never again felt that sting of a younger player surpassing him for a free ride to the big city.

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