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Lee May, 74; first baseman was 3-time All-Star, hit 354 HRs
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Rick B.
2017-07-31 15:37:52 UTC
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http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2017/07/lee_may_big_bopper_from_birmin.html

Lee May, 'Big Bopper from Birmingham,' dead at age 74

Updated on July 30, 2017 at 2:10 PM, Posted on July 30, 2017 at 2:02 PM


By Mark Inabinett


A three-sport standout at A.H. Parker High School in Birmingham, Lee May had the
opportunity to play football at Nebraska as a hard-nosed fullback. He chose
baseball instead and went on to become a three-time National League All-Star at
first base.

The Baltimore Orioles announced on Sunday that May died on Saturday at age 74.

"The Big Bopper from Birmingham" is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame,
the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame and the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame.

Modeling his baseball swing after his favorite player, slugger Harmon Killebrew,
May hit 354 Major League home runs for the Reds, Orioles, Houston Astros and
Kansas City Royals.

May is one of the 11 players in MLB history to have at least 100 RBIs in a
season for three franchises, reaching a high of 110 for the Reds in 1969 and
leading the American League with 109 for the Orioles in 1976.

May played in two World Series - with the Reds in 1970 and the Orioles in 1979 -
but it was his trade that launched Cincinnati into prominence in the 1970s.

Cincinnati won 102 games in 1970, but lost to the Orioles in the World Series.
After the Reds dropped to a 79-83 record in 1971, they traded May to the Houston
Astros in a blockbuster deal.

Cincinnati sent May, second baseman Tommy Helms and utility infielder Jimmy
Stewart to Houston for second baseman Joe Morgan, third baseman Denis Menke,
pitcher Jack Billingham and outfielders Cesar Geronimo and Ed Armbrister.

In the five seasons after the trade, "The Big Red Machine" never won fewer than
95 games and reached the World Series four times. All the players obtained in
the trade for May played some role in Cincinnati's success, and Morgan was the
National League's MVP in 1975 and 1976 on his way to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

During his career, May played in 2,071 games and had 959 runs, 2,031 hits, 340
doubles, 31 triples, 354 home runs, 1,244 RBIs, .267 batting average and .459
slugging percentage. He recorded 11 consecutive seasons in which he had at least
20 home runs and 80 RBIs.

May was an All-Star selection for the Reds in 1969 and 1971 and for the Astros
in 1972. May's brother, Carlos May, played in the big leagues from 1968 through
1977 and was a two-time American League All-Star.

The cause of death was not announced.
Michael OConnor
2017-07-31 21:38:55 UTC
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Lee and his brother Carlos are the answers to a baseball trivia question, as the first brothers to appear in the same All Star game as members of the opposing sides. In 1969, Lee May was on the All Star team with the NL and Carlos with the AL. Dom and Joe DiMaggio had been on the All Star team together several times but both were with the AL team.

The Lee May for Joe Morgan trade (with others involved) was the final major piece to put the Big Red Machine together, as it brought in Morgan, along with outfielder Cesar Geronimo and Jack Billingham, a steady but unspectacular pitcher. Ken Griffey Sr. and George Foster would come along a couple years later, but the Reds eight man lineup (Bench, Rose, Morgan, Perez, Griffey, Geronimo, Concepcion, Foster) was probably the greatest eight man hitting machine ever put together. Only the Dodgers of the 50's I think would come close.

As for May, playing his entire career in pitcher-friendly parks possibly cost him a spot in Cooperstown. His stats, when adjusted for stadium, put him close to the fringes. He'll never get inducted, but he was one of the greats for a good while.
a***@gmail.com
2017-08-01 10:52:57 UTC
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Post by Michael OConnor
Lee and his brother Carlos are the answers to a baseball trivia question, as the first brothers to appear in the same All Star game as members of the opposing sides. In 1969, Lee May was on the All Star team with the NL and Carlos with the AL. Dom and Joe DiMaggio had been on the All Star team together several times but both were with the AL team.
Carlos May is also the only player in major league history to wear his birthdate on his uniform.
Michael OConnor
2017-08-01 14:22:30 UTC
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Post by a***@gmail.com
Carlos May is also the only player in major league history to wear his birthdate on his uniform.
May 17

I'll never forget when the Braves signed pitcher Andy Messersmith as a free agent in the mid-70's and Ted Turner came up with a brilliant advertising gimmick that was shot down by Major League Baseball. Messersmith's uniform number was 17, and on the back of the uniform, instead of putting his name, Turner wanted to put the word "Channel" above the number 17, so the back of his uniform would read "Channel 17". At the time, Channel 17 in Atlanta was WTBS, which was Turner's local UHF channel which he would eventually syndicate all around the country and is now known as TBS.
jdunlop
2017-08-01 14:38:45 UTC
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Post by Michael OConnor
As for May, playing his entire career in pitcher-friendly parks possibly cost him a spot in Cooperstown. His stats, when adjusted for stadium, put him close to the fringes. He'll never get inducted, but he was one of the greats for a good while.
I think he was below general HOF standards. Poor defense (not that it matters much to voters for first basemen) and a tick below others. I'd probably put Boog Powell in ahead of May, speaking of contemporaries, not that I'd advocate for him (good BBQ at Camden Yards though!) Rusty Staub as well (more RF than 1B though. Also an excellent chef.)

(Not to say he's not better than some already in, thanks to the Veteran's committee actions in the mid '40s and early '70s in particular.)
martinjsxx
2017-08-01 20:51:31 UTC
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Lee May was a fearsome slugger in his prime. Not a HOFer but I think he's more of one than someone like Tim Raines who no one ever feared and didn't come close to automatic entry with 3,000 hits. Raines didn't make an All Star team for the last 14 years of his career. The HOF has become a joke.
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