Saturday, October 29, 2011

#26 Jerry Royster

Card: This is Royster's eighth Topps card.  He first appeared on a Topps card along with Dave McKay, Roy Staiger, and Willie Randolph.

Picture: Another card with a lot of light blue, although I'm not as fond of this one as the Hal McRae card.  Needs just a bit of contrast.  Royster's inset picture looks like the camera man just asked him for the square root of five.

Player: Jerry Royster was signed by the LA Dodgers as a 17 year old undrafted free agent in 1970.  Royster started his pro career at single-A Daytona Beach in '71 and advanced to double-A El Paso in '72.  Playing third base, second base, shortstop and outfield for AAA Albuquerque, Royster batted .302 before he was called up to the bigs in August 1973.  Royster flourished at AAA in '74 and '75 but only saw MLB action once the rosters expanded in September.  Trying to break into the Dodgers infield in the 70's was like trying break into the CIA headquarters.
Having nothing left to prove in the minors, Royster was mercifully traded in a six player deal to the Braves.  Royster was the Braves everyday third baseman in '76 batting .248 with 24 steals.  He played regularly in '77 and moved all over the infield but batted only .216.  

The versatile Royster played multiple positions and was a starter over the next three years with batting averages between .242 - .273.  In '79 Royster had career highs with 35 stolen bases and 103 runs scored, but his performance tailed off in '80.
Playing a reduced role in '81, Royster batted only .204 in 93 at bats.
Royster had one of his better seasons in '82 as the Braves won the NL East.  Royster contributed with 14 steals, a .295 average and good defense at thirdbase and leftfield.  Royster had two hits in eleven at bats in the NLCS against the victorious Cardinals.
Royster continued in the utility role in '83 and '84 but didn't hit much and was not re-signed after the '84 season in which he posted an anemic line of .207/.257/.295.

Royster signed with the Padres in '85 and had a much better year.  While filling in at second and third Royster batted .281 in 249 at bats. Royster, playing the same role in '86 batted .257 and was allowed to leave via free agency after the season.
Royster signed on with the White Sox in '87 and despite only 154 at bats, he hit a career high seven home runs.  The Yankees looking for infield depth traded for the multi-purpose veteran in a late August deadline deal.  Royster seeing action in 18 games down the stretch hit 15 for 42 (.357) but the Yankees finished in fourth place.

In April of '88 Royster was released by the Yankees.  Royster was picked up by the Braves in May.  The '88 Braves were an awful team and Royster played six positions and batted .176 in 102 at bats.
Royster retired as a player and promptly got into coaching.

Flipside: Royster had four hit games on 9/24 and 9/28, both coming in Brave wins.  I guess the two RBI games were more impressive to Topps 
Five of those nineteen career homers Royster hit through 1982 were against the Reds.

Oddball: How bad were the 1988 Braves?  They were so bad that in July they gave the light hitting 35 year-old Royster nine straight starts as their centerfielder.

History: Royster was a quick but light hitting utility man for sixteen seasons.  Looking over his career stats he was often miscast by the Braves as a leadoff hitter.  He had the speed but not the on base ability as indicated by his career .315 OBP.
Royster has managed in the minors for the Dodgers and Padres and has been on major league coaching staffs for the Rockies and Brewers. Royster piloted the Milwaukee Brewers to a last place finish in 2002.
Royster has managed the Lotte Giants in the Korean Baseball Organization since '08.  Jerry Royster became first non-Korean to manage in the KBO.

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