High School: Sacramento
* MLB Playing Career: 16 Years (Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta, San Diego,
Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees)
* MLB Managing and Coaching Career: 5 Years (Colorado, Milwaukee, Boston)
Major League Baseball
“It’s a huge honor to be part of such an elite group of athletes. I’m totally humbled at the whole process. To be able to have the Royster family be part of this prestigious honor and be associated with all these legendary inductees is truly wonderful."
Jerry Royster was born and raised in Oak Park. He feels blessed to be part of a large family that is widely known throughout the area. Jerry was encouraged to play sports by his older siblings with their outstanding accomplishments. But the one person he respected most was his dad. Jerry remembers his first experience like it was yesterday. ”It was May and I was 7 years old. I was dressed and ready to go to Cub Scouts. My dad took me outside with a tennis ball, and said it was time to start throwing for baseball. He told me about famous players and the rivalry between the Giants and Dodgers. My mom came out to get me and my dad said ‘He’s not going today.”” That was the beginning of Jerry’s baseball life. His parents signed him up for Little League and his dad was his coach each year until he was 13years old.
Jerry attended Sacramento High School where he lettered all three years in four different sports. Ironically, baseball was his third best sport: basketball was his best. He was All-City two years in a row, and held the school record until Kevin Johnson later broke it. He scored 41 points in a game, including making 19 free throws, winning the Metro League Championship. Jerry was also a great Running Back and Defensive Back for his football team. Oddly, he was kicked off his baseball team for missing a practice because he went to his track meet.
He had many college basketball scholarship offers from schools such as LSU, UCLA, Maryland and many more. He also had football offers from Notre Dame, Washington State and Cal. Jerry’s future was changed when Rowland Office’s Senior Babe Ruth team needed a shortstop. He could only play two games, but was so impressive the next day the Dodgers scout approached him. He initially said no; but after a visit to his house to meet his parents, and an offer that was more money than his father made in a year, he couldn’t refuse. “If it wasn’t for Rowland Office, I would have never had the opportunity.”
At 17 years old, Jerry signed with the Dodgers; having no idea of the process. He spent two years in the minors and was called up in 1973. Jerry had some memorable moments early in his career. In his second year, Rowland Office and Dusty Baker were playing for the Atlanta Braves on April 8th, 1974 – Dusty Baker was on deck while Jerry was in the Dodgers dugout when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s all time home run record. Rowland replaced Aaron later in the game. Here were three Sacramento guys that participated in the game on that historic day.
In another twist, a year later Jerry was traded to Atlanta for Dusty Baker. After the two friends switched cities, Jerry played 3rd base full time. Even more ironically; he was now joining his closest friend, Rowland Office. Jerry was also playing in the game when Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s all time hit record.
Jerry played 16 seasons, his best being 1979 when he improved his hitting after manager Bobby Cox suggested he work with Luke Appling and his teammate Hank Aaron. During that season he batted .273, stole 35 bases and scored 103 runs. In 1982 he had a career high batting average of .295. During that season the Braves made the playoffs under new manager Joe Torre; who said Jerry was the Most Valuable Player of that team; even though his teammate, Dale Murphy, was the National League MVP that season.
After his playing days, Jerry knew he wanted to be a coach or manager. He spent five seasons coaching and in 2002 he got his chance to be the Manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. He also coached with Colorado, and most recently, in 2012 with Boston under Bobby Valentine. In 2007, Jerry was the manager of the Lotte Giants in South Korea, making him the first ever non-Korean to manage in South Korea’s professional baseball league.
Jerry credits all his success to his family, especially his parents: Jimmie and Bessie. His dad coached many players in the area, and was thought of so fondly that it was standing room only for his funeral. The Royster family is connected with many throughout the community including other Inductees Greg Vaughn and Kevin Johnson, as well as so many other friends and family. Jerry is still very close to his ex-wife Kathy; and they have two beautiful daughters together, Kristie and Kara. Since retiring, Jerry is a consultant for Nike Baseball and works with youth in Los Angeles and Sacramento.