Buster Maynard would have been 107 today. He was born in Henderson, NC and began his well-traveled minor leaguer career at age 24 in 1937. During his 13 seasons in the minors, Maynard played for 14 different teams, accumulating most of his playing time in the Carolinas. He also spent parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues with the New York Giants.
In 1938, Maynard split the season between North Carolina’s Tarboro Serpents of the Coastal Plain League and Virginia’s Richmond Colts of the Piedmont League. He would hit .329 with 18 home runs in 106 games for Tarboro.
Maynard split the 1939 season between North Carolina’s Kinston Eagles of the Coastal Plain League and again with the Richmond Colts, hitting .336 in 56 games with Kinston. Maynard made his brief Major League debut in 1940, appearing in 7 games for the New York Giants. During the 1942 and 1943 seasons, he spent most of his time with New York, logging 210 games with the big league club.
Maynard left baseball in 1944 to serve in the US Army during World War II and returned to the sport in 1946. In 1949 Maynard returned to the Carolinas splitting the season between the Charleston Rebels in South Carolina and Augusta Tigers of Georgia, both in the South Atlantic League. He spent the 1950 and 1951 seasons with the Burlington Bees of the Carolina League. His final season in pro ball was in 1952, playing in 107 games for the Durham Bulls of the Carolina League.
It was during his time with the Giants that Maynard made a lasting impression on one baseball fan…
According to that particular fan’s tale, he was attending his very first Major League game at Shibe Park in Philadelphia in the early 1940s. Maynard was the first pro baseball player to meet the young teenage fan, that fan being Tommy Lasorda. Lasorda described his experience taking place after a Phillies-New York Giants game. He rushed to meet the players in the hallway between the two dugouts. The first player Lasorda would speak to, seeking an autograph, was Buster. And according to Lasorda, Buster shoved him out of the way. Lasorda said he never forgot Buster Maynard’s name after that.
Several years later, Lasorda was a 21-yr old prospect for the Brooklyn Dodgers, pitching for the Greenville Spinners (Greenville, SC) of the South Atlantic League. During a game against the Augusta Tigers, Lasorda continues his tale saying he heard the public address announcer introduce a next batter to the box, “Now batting… Buster Maynard.” Tommy said his first three pitches to Maynard were at the batter’s head, with Buster charging the mound and inciting a brawl after the 3rd pitch. After the game, Lasorda says Maynard came to Greenville’s clubhouse and asked him, “Why were you tryin’ to take my head off out there?” Lasorda replied, “You didn’t give me your autograph!”
Lasorda’s tale of Maynard is referenced in Roger Angell’s book:
Five Seasons: A Baseball Companion
Baseball-Reference: Buster Maynard’s career stats