Remembering 'The John Mayberry Jr. Game' on his 40th birthday

Philadelphia Phillies v Cincinnati Reds
Philadelphia Phillies v Cincinnati Reds / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

Two thousand and eighty-one different players have donned the uniform for the Philadelphia Phillies in their 130 years of existence, so it stands to reason that a few of them will have birthdays on any given day of the calendar. So, happy birthday to former Phils Fred Koster, Kent Peterson, Cy Williams, Heinie Heltzel, and Andy Van Slyke. But, extra special wishes this day to former Phillies outfielder and first baseman John Mayberry Jr., who is turning the big 4-0. So, let's remember this guy.

Mayberry was a first-round draft pick not once but twice, as he was taken by the Seattle Mariners in 2002 after finishing high school and then by the Texas Rangers in 2005 while playing at Stanford University. But he never played for the Rangers, as he came to the Phillies in a 2008 trade for Greg Golson, which was essentially a case of swapping former first-round picks who had stalled in their development. Incidentally, it was also the first trade made by Ruben Amaro Jr. as Phillies general manager.

The 6-foot-6 Mayberry made his MLB debut for the Phillies on May 23, 2009, at Yankee Stadium, and it was a big one. After grounding out against Andy Pettitte in his first at-bat as a major leaguer, Mayberry tagged Pettitte for a 3-run home run in his second at-bat. His first big league home run put the Phillies up 4-1, and, although they'd unfortunately lose the game 5-4 (in a harbinger of what was to come in that year's World Series), it was a great way to start a career.

But John Mayberry Jr. never developed as hoped.

He played in 39 games that season and just 11 in 2010 before he began to see regular playing time from 2011 through 2013. He tantalized with talent but could never put it all together. His 15 home runs and 49 RBI in just 296 plate appearances in 2011 looked like a springboard to big things, but they ended up being career highs for him.

Mayberry was flipped to the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2014 season for a minor leaguer, and he also had a brief stint with the New York Mets before being out of MLB for good at the age of 31.

We will, however, always have "The John Mayberry Jr. Game."

It was June 4, 2013, and the Phillies were hosting a wretched Miami Marlins club. Mayberry found himself on the bench that night, watching as the Phillies fell behind 2-0 but rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. He was called upon to pinch hit, but he struck out to end the inning.

Mayberry stayed in the game to play right field, and the game would eventually go to extra innings at 2-2. Miami took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 10th, but Mayberry greeted Marlins pitcher Steve Cishek with a bomb to center field leading off the bottom half of the inning to tie the game again.

He wasn't done yet.

Fast forward to the bottom of the 11th. With the game still knotted at 3-3, Mayberry stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. He sent a screaming line drive to left field which just cleared the wall and landed in the shrubbery to give the Phillies a 7-3 win in style via a grand slam. John Mayberry Jr. collected five extra-inning RBI that night.

I have never been able to substantiate it, but this has to be an MLB record. Just think of what is required for it to happen — multiple run-scoring at-bats, probably of the extra-base hit variety, with nobody else from either team ending the game before your second opportunity rolls around. Consider this an open invitation for anyone who wants to research it, but Mayberry must have been the only guy ever to do this. And that's what makes baseball so fun.

Mayberry, who had entered the game with two home runs and nine RBI on the season to that point, was the unlikeliest of heroes on this night and will always have a spot in Phillies history because of it. Happy 40th birthday, John Mayberry Jr.!

More Philadelphia Phillies news and analysis